Will that be Arts, Science or the combo?

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Published: 22Jan2004

McGill University offers unique new joint degree in Arts and Science

Almost half a century after British novelist and physicist C. P. Snow's famous lamentation of the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities, McGill University will offer its students the opportunity to bridge the two cultures. Beginning in September 2004, the Faculties of Arts and Science will jointly offer a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree. The BA&Sc is an interdisciplinary degree intended for students who want to pursue simultaneously a program offered by the Faculty of Arts and one offered by the Faculty of Science, or a program offered jointly by both faculties. All BA&Sc students choose one of the following options:

  • an Arts Major Concentration and a Science Major Concentration;
  • a Major Concentration in Arts or Science and two minor concentrations in the other faculty;
  • a Faculty program spanning Arts and Science and a minor concentration in Arts or Science;
  • a Joint Honours component in Arts and a Joint Honours component in Science.

In addition, BA&Sc students are required to take a 3-credit core course that addresses a series of topics covering issues that integrate information from Arts and Science disciplines. The course introduces students to a variety of interdisciplinary topics — e.g., the history of science, biomedical ethics, and the philosophy of science — that exemplify the benefits of applying scholarship from both Arts and Science to the same problem or issue. Students also choose another 3-credit course that provides an integration of material across Arts and Science.

"The central objective of the BA&Sc is to provide students with a broad education that includes in-depth study of disciplines in both faculties," says Professor Morton Mendelsohn, Associate Dean, Academic and Student Affairs, in the Faculty of Science. "This new degree gives students a unique opportunity to achieve a diverse knowledge base, to gain competence in different methods of scholarship, to hone intellectual flexibility, and to integrate material across disciplines."

By choosing their programs appropriately, students who obtain a BA&Sc will be well prepared to pursue employment, or postgraduate studies, in a wide variety of fields. The varied intellectual skills they will have developed will render them extremely attractive candidates for potential employers, for professional programs in fields such as business, law and medicine, and for graduate programs in traditional and interdisciplinary departments.

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