Self-Designed Majors

The Process

(1) Interested students, in consultation with three faculty sponsors from at least two departments, should present a detailed written proposal of their major (which has been signed by their faculty sponsors) to the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee no later than Friday before the midsemester break of each semester. One of the faculty sponsors should be identified as the chair of the supervising committee.

(2) Approval of the special major will be granted by the dean, on the recommendation of the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee. The committee will review the proposals and communicate their recommendations to the students before the preregistration period begins. As it deliberates, the committee may ask for additional information from the student, faculty sponsors, and other colleagues in related areas to assist in further refining and rewriting the original proposal. It is the expectation that the on-campus portions of the major will relay heavily on existing courses.

(3) Special majors must culminate in a capstone essay, or, where appropriate, other work, which will be evaluated by more than one faculty member. (In most cases, it is assumed that the faculty evaluators will be the faculty sponsors.) A detailed proposal of the capstone project must be submitted to the faculty sponsors by November 1 of the senior year. It is expected that a capstone essay will consist of between 30 and 50 pages (7,500-15,000 words).

(4) Changes in an individual program need the approval of the chair of the supervising committee and the dean. If students discover midstream that they are unable to complete the special major, it may be “dropped,” but they must then complete one of the traditional departmental majors. Retroactive proposals will not be considered. Thus, these programs should be well underway by the end of the junior year.

Arts and Letters News

  • Historian Wins Phi Beta Kappa Award for Book on Philology

    Phi Beta Kappa

    For his book pulling together the complex history of philology and how Western humanistic learning split into the modern humanities that we know today, Notre Dame historian James Turner has received the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award. The honor is given for books in literary scholarship or criticism and is named for a distinguished Princeton University scholar, teacher, and dean. Turner’s book, Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, looks at how learned researchers once included languages, history, and texts in a single broad field of study that came to be known as philology. Read More >

  • Liberal Studies Professor and Medieval Institute Faculty Affiliate Wins Olivia Remie Constable Prize

    Robichaud Icon

    Denis Robichaud, an assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, has been awarded the 2016 Olivia Remie Constable Prize in Medieval Studies for study at the University of Oxford this summer. The prize was established last year by Robert M. Conway to honor Remie Constable, the former director of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute, and was held last summer by Kent Emery Jr., a professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, who completed work for an ongoing multi-person Duns Scotus edition. Robichaud studies 15th-century history and philosophy, and particularly Marsilio Ficino. Read More >

  • Video: William Collins Donahue on the Resonance of Small Moments in Holocaust Literature

    William Collins Donahue

    “Early literary encounters with the Holocaust tended to tell you about the whole event, but now when the Holocaust appears, generally speaking, it appears in small moments, in kind of passing glances,” said William Collins Donahue, the John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities and chair of the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame. Donahue has researched extensively in the areas of literary realism and modernism, especially the work of Elias Canetti. Now focusing primarily on Holocaust literature, Donahue is developing an analogy for how the Holocaust appears in contemporary narratives. These small episodes, Donahue said, are similar to the Stolpersteine, a worldwide movement of small pavement stones, each commemorating a victim in the Holocaust. Read More >

  • Video: Theology Professor Khaled Anatolios on Studying the Origins of Christian Doctrines

    Khaled Anatolios Icon

    “I tend to gravitate towards doctrines that seem inexplicable, and I try to understand what motivated the early Christians to formulate these doctrines in just these ways,” said Khaled Anatolios, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Anatolios specializes in the theology of the early Church. As a Byzantine Catholic priest, he has a special interest in the doctrines of the Greek fathers as well as complementary ideas between the Eastern and Western traditions. His current research focuses on the doctrine of salvation, particularly the disconnect between classical sources and modern experience. Read More >