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University drops science-business major

The science-business major, an interdisciplinary program that included aspects of the curricula from both the Mendoza College of Business and the College of Science, will no longer be available to those who have not already declared the major beginning in fall 2023.

Interdisciplinary majors are intended to allow students to gain from studying in more than one of Notre Dame’s six colleges. The science-business major had been offered by the University for around 40 years, allowing students to delve into the world of business while also preparing them for a career in healthcare. 

The major intended to qualify the student to enter an MBA program, as well as healthcare professional education such as medical school, dental school, public health or health care administration. The curriculum of the major was varied, allowing students to get the full experience of an interdisciplinary study.

“The major serves a group of students who seek careers in STEM-aligned fields like consulting, the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries and healthcare administration. It also serves some preprofessional students who want to gain valuable expertise in the business of running their own practices once they finish medical or dental school,” said Dan Gezelter, associate dean for undergraduate studies, in an email.  “Our science-business graduates have also gone on to law school, graduate school, the nonprofit sector, directly into careers in industry and have even built their own businesses.”

John Nash, a junior in the science-business major, said that the program served his interests in both areas.

“I really liked the major, I think it’s a really good combination of two things that I really care about,” Nash said. “And I wanted to have an experience with both because I feel it’s always good to have a multidisciplinary course load.”

In its place, the College of Business will offer a minor of five courses on the foundation of business, open to students in the College of Science. The minor will provide students a foundational education in business while allowing them to still pursue a career in healthcare.

“The science-business major provides an excellent education on the foundations of business, but restructuring as a primary science major plus the new minor will make this education more broadly available to students with a primary interest in one of the main scientific disciplines,” Gezelter said in an email.  

Nash said he doesn’t believe the minor will foster the same sense of community as the major. 

“There isn’t a course for science-business kids. You take science classes and you take business classes, so I understand where they’re coming from,” Nash said. “I don’t necessarily think it would be too different, but it is nice to kind of meet other kids in the science-business program and know that we all kind of have similar interests. So I definitely think that kind of community would go away.”

Geltzer said that the change will resolve the administrative challenges of a cross-college program.

“Relying on two different colleges to provide the required classes for a major is always a challenge,” Gezelter said in an email. “The College of Business wants to oversee their own academic programs and their own classes and wants to offer a distinct credential for Notre Dame students.”

Gezelter said that the program’s interdisciplinary hiring potential would not end with the major.

“The science-business name helped recruiters find students who had a broad interdisciplinary training in science as well as a firm foundation in business,” Gezelter said in an email. “That recruiting edge may be missing for future classes, but the top-notch training in the sciences and in business will remain for students who combine one of the new minors with a primary major in science.”

Nash said he has been able to advance his career through his science-business major.

“I’m actually interning at DaVita healthcare next summer, which is a healthcare consulting firm that works in kidney care,” Nash said. “And they said that my major, science-business, really stood out to them because it’s not something a lot of other universities offer and they thought it was super unique and really played into what their company is all about.”

The science-business major as students once knew it is unlikely to return to Notre Dame, but Gezelter said there is hope for a new major with similar tenets.

“Once we have approval to sunset the major, it is not likely to come back,” Gezelter said in an email. “The science dean’s office is currently looking at options for a new interdisciplinary science major that will share many of the strengths of the Science-Business major.”

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Tri-campus Thursday: South Asia Group brings interdisciplinary scholars together

Students and faculty members gathered over samosas and steaming cups of chai in 2148 Jenkins and Nanovic Halls on Wednesday for the South Asia Group’s first event this semester. The South Asia Group is an interdisciplinary group of faculty, scholars and students at Notre Dame whose work relates to the region that includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

At the event, professors and students engaged in free-flowing conversations ranging from nationalistic propaganda in India to handicraft artisans in Nepal. 

Susan Ostermann, assistant professor of global affairs and political science for the Keough School of Global Affairs, founded the South Asia Group in 2017 with professors Nikhil Menon, Lakshmi Iyer and Amitava Dutt. Menon and Iyer were new to the University at the time, while Dutt has been at Notre Dame since 1988.

“There were enough of us working on South Asia but in different fields, and almost all of us had been accustomed to being at universities that had a larger community within our fields. I was hired to teach South Asian politics because nobody was doing it, so I was not expecting a community here, but in the spirit of the Keough School … we thought interdisciplinary work had a real place,” Ostermann said.  

The group’s events are funded by the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.

“Even though the Institute was envisioned as a place that focuses on East Asia, Michel Hockx who runs it is very inclusive,” Ostermann said.

The South Asia Group typically meets four times a semester.

“After the pandemic, it was a little bit challenging to get people to remember we existed, and so we started doing the chai and samosa events to draw people in. It was so enjoyable that we continued doing it just because it brings everybody together,” Ostermann said.

According to the Liu Institute’s website, the group will be hosting two guest speakers this semester, including Yaqoob Bangash, a Notre Dame alumnus and Fulbright fellow at the Mittal Institute at Harvard University. Bangash will speak about the emergence of Pakistan as a postcolonial state. The group also plans to have an event later this semester for students to present their work related to South Asia.

Students can also get involved through taking courses and research assistance through channels like the Kellogg International Scholars Program or independently, Ostermann said.

“We have a lot of relatively young faculty [working on South Asia] so all of us have a very active research agenda … just email us,” she said. 

Ostermann and Iyer are also organizing a conference related to issues of democracy rights and development in May 2023.

“In 2019 we held a conference at the Keough School’s [Washington] D.C. office that put Notre Dame academics in dialogue with policymakers and academics from elsewhere. The topic was religion, development and South Asia at the time,” Ostermann said.

The upcoming conference will be held in Washington D.C. again, but will be livestreamed so it is accessible to the broader campus community.

Mahan Mirza, executive director of the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, participated in the 2019 conference.

“At that point I was working on advancing scientific and theological literacy among madrasa graduates in India and Pakistan with Ebrahim Moosa, and the conference was fantastic,” Mirza said. 

As an Islamic studies scholar, Mirza and members of the Ansari Institute often do projects in collaboration with the South Asia Group through the Liu Institute. Mirza is glad the group is increasing awareness about the region.

“Whenever the chai and samosa events get announced, you’ve even got people coming from the architecture school and Mendoza and it’s generated really interesting conversations,” Mirza said.

Prithvi Iyer, a member of the class of 2023 Master of Global Affairs (MGA) cohort who attended the event, got involved with the South Asia Group in March.

“Last semester the hijab row in India was pretty strong … given the amount of talk at Notre Dame about laïcité secularism and the burqa ban in France … not much was being done in the South Asian context,” Prithvi said.

Prithvi organized a panel about India’s hijab row featuring Nabeela Jamil, an attorney practicing in the Supreme Court of India, Notre Dame professor Julia Kowalski and journalist Fatima Khan to discuss the issue and its parallels with religious freedom in the West. 

Prithvi also attended the group’s chai and samosa gatherings last semester, where he was able to meet other graduate students and faculty members with similar research interests. 

Prithvi hopes the South Asia Group will make the University a place where community members critically engage with discourse about South Asia.

“[Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi’s rise in the context of rising autocracies in the world is a very important case study, not because he’s Indian, or because I’m Indian … but because 1.3 billion people somehow gave the largest political mandate … as a product of democracy, to a leader like him,” Prithvi said. “These are important questions that shouldn’t be thought of purely geographically as being a South Asian problem. These are questions that have enormous significance, like the way we think about the West.”

Contact Angela Mathew at amathew3@nd.edu.