A bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts will be introduced for the next academic term, after being approved Wednesday at the last Senate meeting of the year.
Senators also approved the creation of a department of bioengineering, pending approval from the Board of Governors (BoG).
The Liberal Arts program is set to replace the Humanistic Studies program, which was discontinued in 2009, as well as the Arts Legacy program eliminated in 2011.
According to an Academic Policy committee report presented to the Senate, the Faculty of Arts has addressed problems and deficiencies encountered in the Humanistic Studies and Arts Legacy programs.
Associate Dean of Arts (Research and Graduate Studies) Juliet Johnson told Senate the Liberal Arts program “builds on the best aspects of the first year Legacy program and the Humanistic Studies major.”
The report also states that the new program would also address “the need for a language requirement, other than English and French” by including a foreign language component.
Arts Senator John Galaty, however, expressed reservations during the meeting about the extent to which the Liberal Arts program, as presented to Senate, represented an improvement upon Humanistic Studies.
“Either change the term back to Humanistic Studies – [which] is more specific – or actually act on what was the aim a year ago and represent an overture of the Dean of Arts to the faculty, which is to include the social sciences in a judicious and conscious way, which in fact would enhance the program considerably,” he added.
Johnson stated that although they are not currently included, McGill plans to incorporate the social sciences in the future.
In an interview with The Daily, SSMU VP University Affairs Emily Clare spoke positively of the Liberal Arts program, but added that “it is important to consider if it will be serving the purposes that it needs to serve.”
“For example, Arts Legacy was extremely popular with many of the students, however it didn’t seem like it was viable for several reasons,” said Clare.
A Department of Bioengineering under the Faculty of Engineering, the first of its kind in Canada, was also created this week after successive approval votes from Senate on Wednesday and BoG yesterday.
In its proposal for a Bioengineering department, the Faculty of Engineering pointed to the “considerable commercial and societal value” of bioengineering as one of the fastest growing areas of studies within engineering.
According to Interim Dean of Engineering Andrew Kirk, the creation of a department was necessary to gain accreditation for the program. Kirk described the accreditation process as strenuous and almost impossible without a department.
Kirk also stated that the new department would offer different programs from the existing bioresource engineering and biomedical engineering programs offered at McGill.
“The department will be small, with eight professors in the first few years, and it would have thirty undergraduate students in the first year,” said Kirk.
The Chair of the Bioengineering program is expected to be appointed by August. The program will start admitting students by September 2014.