story | Justin Ong, Managing Editor

photo | Penguin Classics

Starting in August, Yale-NUS College students can better indulge their interests in the old world. Global Antiquity was approved alongside Chinese Studies by the Curriculum committee on Feb. 27, where they will be the College’s first two interdisciplinary Minors. Courses under existing majors such as Literature, Philosophy and History, as well as courses in religion and ancient languages — which currently do not count towards any major or minor—will count towards the Global Antiquity minor. The Octant was unable to obtain detailed information on the Chinese Studies Minor. 

The Global Antiquity minor offers students the opportunity to design an individualized course of study on ancient societies, classical traditions and their enduring cultural significance. This would complement majors in related fields. The minor will be effective from Semester One of the 2017/2018 Academic Year, and will be open to students from the Class of 2018 onwards. Students in the Class of 2017 who are still active in the upcoming academic year are also eligible to declare the minor.

The minor was created to support interdisciplinary research in ancient societies for students. “[Those who] are interested in ancient literature are going to be interested in ancient history, and vice versa,” Mira Seo, a Literature professor and member of the Curriculum Committee that approved the minor, said. “The majors are too narrow for students of these broad interdisciplinary interests.” Faculty from different fields also decided that there was “some subset interest that was not represented in a major,” according to Ms. Seo.

The new Global Antiquity minor is a way to package these interests with a “hot, sexy branding,” Ms. Seo said. She added that the minor should not be seen as an isolated field of study; rather, it serves to categorize pre-existing courses. For instance, ancient language modules such as Ancient Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and Classical Chinese can now be counted towards the minor. According to the unpublished module brief, at least 5 Modular Credits in the minor should be dedicated to an Intermediate or Advanced ancient language course.

According to Ms. Seo, many students spend a lot of time and effort mastering ancient languages since they are an important scholarly tool—a student cannot do a capstone on Ancient Greece or Homer without knowing Ancient Greek, she said. However, previously none of these languages were counted towards a major or minor. “All that credit time is just donated,” she said. “[The new Global Antiquity minor] gives a home for ancient languages and gives credit for [learning them].”  

The addition of the Global Antiquity minor may also increase the College’s funding for research in this field and aid in inviting speakers to the College, Ms. Seo added.

Several students expressed support for the addition of the new minor. “[The] creation of such a minor […] indicates that the school will be dedicated [in] recognising and supporting students pursuing interests in this area,” Jac Hsu ’18, a History major and prospective Global Antiquity minor, said. Although she had planned to go to graduate school in this field before this, she said that she now felt extra validation to pursue her interests beyond college.

Tay Jun Hao ’19 said that he thought that the minor was just a label. “I started taking the ancient languages and ancient history courses, because I had an interest in it, not because there was a minor for this,” he said. “[But the minor] is a bonus.”

Ms. Seo said that although the minor is most relevant for students who wish to pursue graduate school in this field, it also “gives [graduates] a distinct intellectual identity” that could also be attractive outside an academic context. “It gives people and employers a sense of who you are in a more specific, fine-grained way,” she said.

At the time of publishing, there has been no updates on when official information regarding the Global Antiquity Minor will be published.

Correction: The minor in  Chinese Studies was also approved alongside the Global Antiquity minor, but was not mentioned in an earlier version of this article. We apologize for the error. The Octant will be running an article on the Chinese Studies Minor in our next Volume. 

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