When I first started attending UNC I was coming out of a two year hiatus from college for financial reasons. I had previously attended CU-Boulder majoring in film for a year and a half. Of course, UNC has no film major. I did not have a very good idea of what I wanted to do after completing my undergraduate studies. As I had always been successful in English classes, I entered UNC with a declared major in English. On the recommendation of friends, I signed up for classes in Cultural Studies, a minor housed in the English department. Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary field which utilizes modern and contemporary theoretical writings to critically discuss and explore all facets of culture, specifically popular culture—anything from art to music, from architecture to fashion. This field of study greatly appealed to me, as in addition to my previous work in film, I have spent much time participating in and exploring various music and art projects, in school and out. In my Cultural Studies classes, I found a theoretical outlet and sounding board for my thoughts and ideas on these topics. Moreover, I found my general ability for argumentation and application rapidly expanding. I was hooked.
This led to a great frustration, as the Cultural Studies minor is only a 6 class (18 credit hour) program, a mere fraction of the time I would spend completing my major in English. I found that I had no interest whatsoever in completing an English major. Furthermore, I was so engaged in my Cultural Studies work that I began seriously contemplating the possibility of taking my schooling past an undergraduate degree in that field. Thankfully, around this time some friends of mine told me about the Interdisciplinary Studies program, designed to assist and provide options for students who desire to explore academic options simply not offered by the university in a major or major/minor combination. These friends had both recently converted their majors from English to Interdisciplinary Studies. One had created a program in film production and theory, the other in critical thought on music and music journalism. In Interdisciplinary Studies, I saw an opportunity to develop a program of my own devising that focused my academic passions and also enveloped many of my extracurricular experimentation in music, art, and writing.
After meeting with my IDS contact to discuss the process, I started solidifying my major in writing and through many advisory meetings with professors in the English, Music, and Art departments. In addition to and through my work in Cultural Studies, I found myself increasingly frustrated by the separation—at least at UNC—between theoretical or philosophical degrees and their practical counterparts. In my Cultural Studies classes, many students were discussing the arts with little or no understanding of their subject. Likewise, observing friends, I saw intense but unfocused creation in the Art and Music departments with little or no theoretical framework within which to place their works. I saw a space to merge or blur the line between these fields, arguing that music, art, and philosophy—and for that matter theoretical discussion and practical application—might work better in harmony rather than in opposition. My particular major, “Cultural Exchange in Music and the Arts,” seeks to explore new philosophical and practical directions for music and art production and analysis in relation the massive technological changes which have defined creative projects in the last two centuries.
I have been continually inspired and invigorated in my interdisciplinary coursework, and now more than ever, I see the importance in furthering my studies in graduate programs with an eye specifically toward challenging the academic boundary between theory and application.
Throughout my undergraduate career to date, I’ve pulled myself in a lot of different directions academically. I’ve found that in taking so many classes in different areas of study, making connections between some of these classes is something that interests me deeply. What I hope to accomplish in designing a major for myself here at UNC, is to combine my efforts in several of the classes I have taken, and take the ideas I’ve gathered in them to push myself further than I believe I normally would have if I’d stayed a Journalism major alone. The student designed major will also allow me to meet my goals of being a well-informed thinker and writer when it comes to media and culture.
In the program that I have designed for myself, I will be combining English, Media, and Cultural Studies with Journalism. My goal in this respect is to learn how to think and write about cultural studies topics in Journalism, about film and music. I hope to analyze music and films in a way that incorporates their functions into the cultural system we live in today. I believe that there is a rising demand for this kind of thinking in relation to popular culture. It is important that we as a culture really think about the images and sounds we are seeing and hearing, and come to a better understanding of how exactly it is affecting our way of life.
Though I’ve known for a long time what my goals after college would be, I thought that being a Journalism major was the closest thing I could get to preparing myself for music and film writing for a magazine. What I discovered was that the Journalism major alone does not allow for me think about the subjects about which I wish to write. With the Interdisciplinary Studies student designed major, I’m able to pinpoint exactly what I want to be working on, and can come closer to my goals than ever.
The reason I want to create a degree for film production at this university is that UNC does not have such a major. Through the classes I have taken to fulfill the film studies minor, I have encountered several faculty who have extensive knowledge in the field. They have urged me to pursue an education in this area. Following a course of study in film production at UNC would be advantageous because of the small class sizes and close work with professors in the three areas from which I’ve selected classes.
Despite the fact that UNC does not offer a major in film production, there are plenty of courses that would apply. The extensive theater program at UNC offers many classes that teach skills translatable to film production. Also because of the English, Journalism, Mind and Art classes offered here, I feel that I can get an even better than adequate education, providing me with the knowledge I will need to pursue film production through graduate school.
Because of the small class sizes and the close work I will be doing with my advisors, a major in Interdisciplinary Studies gives me an advantage over students at larger universities with distinct film production programs. In this way I will get to work one-on-one with professors to create my own style of filmic art. Also, I will include courses that will educate me in other areas so that by attaining a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, I will graduate with a well-rounded education necessary to pursuing a higher degree in this field.
For two years now I have been in college, planning out my future given certain guidelines. These guidelines or proposed tracks for certain majors, put me in classes that will best prepare me for a career in the applied major. I have come to realize that the area of study that I would like to pursue most isn’t offered as a major; therefore, there isn’t a track for me to follow to best prepare me for a career in what I want to do. I have always been interested in biology, and the way animals and organisms react to one another and their environments. Last year I met a professor at the University of Colorado who was researching prairie dogs and how they live in their environment. I thought to myself, how could this possibly be interesting enough to study for a long period of time? They’re just prairie dogs. With this in mind I started thinking about how would a prairie dog react if their environment was altered by human involvement? In fact how would any animal or organism react to any stimulus in a given situation? More importantly, how do these animals live?
My proposed major for a while was Environmental Sciences. I lived to explore how the world works, how the earth’s weather and environment are constantly changing. This interest wasn’t as deep as I thought; I wanted to know more specifics. How do animals and organisms live and react to the ever-changing world? I looked into it and found Ecology, or the study of how organisms interact with their environments. This was just perfect; I want to become an ecologist.
The majors offered at UNC aren’t exactly what I want out of my major. I want to learn about ecology. I feel as though the only way for me to truly be prepared for my career, I would need to take classes to fit my aspirations. With the classes I have already taken and the proposed classes below, I hope I can design my own major to best fit my ideas.
Please review my proposed classes. With the track I have created, I hope to be more prepared for my future career. My proposed major includes classes that I am very interested in. From the areas of Behavioral Ecology, Environmental Studies, and Philosophy, I have dubbed my proposed major “Ecological Theory.”