Major Updates

Illustration by Joaquin Kunkel

New Majors Under Discussion

A look at the new majors being proposed.

Nov 19, 2016

At the Nov. 5 General Assembly the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the NYU Abu Dhabi Student Government discussed the new majors currently in development. With Legal Studies far along in the approval process, various other new majors and minors are currently in discussion at the university, including Arabic Studies, Interactive Media, African Studies, Dance, Arab Music and reformed versions of the current Music and social science majors. None of the new academic programs or reforms will be implemented until next semester.
The Legal Studies major is currently in the final stage of the review process, having submitted its proposal to the UAE Ministry of Education this semester. Led by Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law John Coughlin, the program, according to a recent presentation, will center on:
“[Posing] the philosophical, cultural, historical, social, economic and ethical questions that prove indispensable both to a deep understanding of law and to liberal arts education. The legal studies program does not focus on the laws of specific jurisdictions, but rather offers substantive and methodological insights about the nature of law and legal institutions.”
The program is currently a minor offered at NYUAD with Phillip Mitsis and Peter Goodrich, professors of philosophy and law respectively, participating.
The Arabic Studies major, having passed UCC review about a month ago, is currently under review by the Faculty Council. The head of the department did not respond to The Gazelle. According to the UCC, the Arabic Studies program will include classes in both formal and colloquial Arabic. Language courses will be buttressed by courses in linguistics and various courses taught in Arabic. The Arabic Studies major will differ notably from Arab Crossroads in its greater emphasis on language rather than wider Arab culture.
Interactive Media is the last academic major currently being discussed and is also being reviewed by the Faculty Council along with Arabic Studies. The major will center on the convergence of computer science and visual arts, expanding on the existing minor and courses currently being offered in the subject.
The major has sparked interest in many students. Sophomore Maria Averianova plans on majoring in Interactive Media. At the moment, she is an Economics major and says that her interest in Interactive Media compliments her current studies.
“The skills one is offered in IM major ... transform a student into a well-rounded professional. I want to pursue a career in business, marketing and entertainment. Combining IM major with an Economics will make me proficient and successful in the fields I am interested in,” wrote Averianova.
This major will not be available until the next academic year at the earliest.
The potential African Studies minor is currently in discussion with UCC after conversation to create a minor began in 2014, following the African Studies seminar. The new African Studies minor is currently set to take advantage of several existing faculty across NYUAD’s Arts and Humanities and Social Science divisions. The minor is set to be housed under the Arts and Humanities.
Expanded dance courses along with a Dance minor are also currently being considered by students. Those pushing for the expansion of the dance curriculum include Sophomore Sara Booth.
“There is such a strong interest in dance, and unfortunately we only have so much to offer in terms of classes at this point. Hopefully, in the somewhat near future we can start offering dance classes for credit, as it's really difficult to dedicate so much of your time and effort to something that is purely extracurricular,” said Booth.
In a Student Government post on Facebook on Nov. 18, the UCC also sent out a request for public comment surrounding reforms to NYUAD’s Music and social science majors generally. In terms of the present music curriculum, senior Garreth Chan discussed that present concerns with the program relate to issues like the accessibility of the program for those with no previous music experience. Chan described that presently many students are unaware of the for-credit instructional classes offered by the major. A potential Arab Music minor is also being discussed in context to music major reforms.
Since the university's initial creation, several new academic studies have been approved for students including Peace Studies and Art History.
Correction: 20 Nov. 2016
A previous version of this article said Arabic, Africana Studies and Arabic Music instead of Arabic Studies, African Studies and Arab Music.
The article stated that the Arabic major was reviewed by the UCC last year and that it was under review by higher administration. The Arabic Studies major was reviewed by the UCC last month, and it is currently under review by the Faculty Council.
Interactive Media was reported as being the least far in the approval process, but it is currently being reviewed by the Faculty Council.
A previous version of the article also misattributed the initiative for the African Studies minor.
*Tom Klein is News Editor. Additional reporting by Kristina Stankovic. Email them at
gazelle logo