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Faculty approve exploratory subject, Pass/D/Fail measures at March meeting

Faculty members approved making permanent the exploratory subject option for sophomores and offering a Pass/D/Fail option for graduate students during the monthly faculty meeting on March 13.

Faculty also heard proposals to allow double majors at MIT and to make permanent the SB program in Comparative Media Studies. Both proposals will be voted on at the April faculty meeting.

Currently, a student who wishes to pursue a double degree must complete 17 General Institute Requirement courses, take all of the required classes in each of the two departments and complete 270 units outside of the GIRs--90 units more than a student pursuing one degree.

The new proposal, submitted by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), follows a recommendation of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons to allow a student to receive one SB degree, but with two majors. Those electing to pursue this path would only have to complete 180 units outside of the GIRs and satisfy the requirements of the two programs they are in.

The measure was presented at the faculty meeting by Professor of Electrical Engineering Dennis Freeman and by Professor and Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Support Diana Henderson. Freeman and Henderson said the plan makes sense because it mirrors the real world and the research pursuits of many MIT faculty.

"Much like our faculty, many of our students have an interest in working in multiple fields," said Freeman, the CUP chairman.

"Multidisciplinary education has never been more important," he added. "Our graduates increasingly face real world problems whose solutions draw on multiple disciplines."

Separately, professors Henry Jenkins and Bill Uricchio outlined a measure to make permanent the SB program in comparative media studies.

The program, created in 2003, allows undergraduate students to study the effect of media across history, culture, discipline and humanity.

Chancellor Phillip Clay made a presentation to the faculty on the financial aid enhancements for the 2008-2009 academic year, including the decision to make MIT tuition-free for families with typical assets earning less than $75,000 a year.

Professor Lawrence Vale, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, delivered a moving eulogy of Professor J. Mark Schuster, who died in February from complications from melanoma.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 2, 2008 (download PDF).

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