Skip to Content

Majors

RC Majors give students the unique opportunity to study academic programs unavailable elsewhere. The five RC Interdisciplinary Majors are Arts and Ideas, Creative Writing and Literature, Drama, Social Science, and an Individualized Concentration.

You can download a copy of the RC Major/Minor Declaration Form below.
Please note that you must meet with a RC Advisor to complete your declaration.

For an appointment with a RC advisor please contact:

The RC Academic Services Office
134 Tyler - East Quad
734.763.0032

 

Arts and Ideas in the Humanities

Note: The Arts and Ideas in the Humanities Major is open to all LSA students.

The Arts and Ideas in the Humanities Program offers a broad array of interdisciplinary courses in literature, the visual arts and music. Many courses focus on specific historical moments or contexts ranging from ancient times to the 21st century understood in global terms. Students are encouraged to encounter different cultures through their distinctive artistic production, and to develop the interpretive and analytical skills appropriate to an understanding of these works. Courses in visual studies, dance, studio art and music provide training in comparative analysis as well as in the actual practice of these art forms. By combining studio practice with the academic study of art, the Arts and Ideas curriculum enables students to understand global art production from three important perspectives: thoughtful analytic engagement; historical depth; and in the active space of studio discovery.
Arts and Ideas in the Humanities courses stress interdisciplinary and comparative methodologies. Students investigate how different forms of art speak to one another: how they argue or agree, how they overlap or diverge in form and content. In addition, by combining theory with practice, many Arts and Ideas courses encourage students to reflect on the material origins of art. To understand art at its deepest level, one must have some experience in its production. Through intensive discussion, writing, and studio practice, students become more sophisticated analysts, critical historians, and well-informed producers of culture.

Concentration Requirements
To major in Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, students combine three academic courses in history and theory with two courses focusing on visual studies, studio arts, dance, and music. To complete the concentration, students then construct an individualized program of specialized study in two areas of focus, a total of seven courses. In the specialized study portion of the Arts and Ideas Concentration, different area combinations are possible, depending on the interests of the student. Possible combinations include: philosophy and art history; literature and psychology; Southeast Asian studies and musicology; or African-American studies and photography. The full program requires a minimum of 12 courses, or about 37 credit hours of work.

Click here for a more detailed description of the RC Arts and Ideas concentration requirements.

 

Creative Writing and Literature

Note: The Creative Writing and Literature Major is open to ALL LSA Students.

Check out the new RCWriters Website, for the Residential College writing community.

This major teaches the sustained practice of fiction or poetry writing combined with the study of literature. Creative Writing concentrators write fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction under the close guidance of individual faculty. Seminars and one-on-one tutorials provide students with structure and mentorship as they develop voice and proficiency in their chosen genre. For many students, this concentration is a way to combine a serious interest in writing with another LSA or RC concentration.

To fulfill the writing requirement, students take a series of courses in the RC that combine class meetings with private critical feedback in weekly tutorials with instructors. The concentration emphasizes self-directed, intensive writing opportunities, both in class and in extracurricular activities that encourage students to find an audience for their work through readings, informal peer review opportunities, and publication in student-run literary journals, such as the RC Review and Xylem. Concentrators also take five upper-level literature courses, one of which must be in classical or medieval literature.

Creative Writing graduates pursue successful careers as writers, editors, educators, advertising professionals, and many other writing related-fields. Every year our graduates are admitted to competitive graduate school programs in the fine arts, education, law, business, public policy, social work, and other courses of professional study that demand proficient writing skills and creative approaches to problem solving.

RC Creative Writing students have demonstrated unparalled success in the esteemed U of M Hopwood Awards, winning 108 awards since the 1994-95 school year.

Please call 734-763-0032 to make an appointment with Laura Thomas for more detailed information or to declare a Major in Creative Writing and Literature.

Drama

Note: The Drama Major is open to ALL LSA Students.

The RC Drama Major combines the literary, historical, and theatrical study of drama. You will study dramatic texts as literature, playwrights and their sources and contexts (mythological, historical, literary, personal) and problems of performance (staging, audience, reception). This practical as well as theoretical approach to theater allows you to combine critical analysis with active performance. All courses in the major are small and interactive: discussing and writing about dramatic texts and the world they came from and performing scenes for evaluation and enjoyment.

At the heart of the RC Drama concentration is the theater experience – what happens in the theater during the performance of a play? Through a variety of experiential and academic activities, you will acquire the discipline of indentifying with author, actor, director and spectator. You will develop a specifically dramatic perception and understanding of the play text. You will practice using your eyes and ears while reading to “see” and “hear” the action on stage. You will learn to distinguish between the play and the production while appreciating their inter-dependence. You will increase your knowledge of acting and dramatic style, of how characters behave in the dramatic situation, of how spectators will be able to assess the aesthetic and social significance of the play in its own time, in the theater, before the audience of its own time; and then to explore how it is “revived” for another time and audience, possibly in another medium.

This concentration is especially useful to students who want to combine a field of study in the Humanities (Drama) with practical work in Theater through various venues at the Residential College and elsewhere on campus. A core faculty of the RC, together with select faculty in the Department of Theatre, and Drama (The School of Music, Theater and Dance) will afford you a unique blend of theory and practice in this complex art form and major social/cultural phenomenon.

Click here for addiitonal requirements of the RC Drama Major.

 

Social Theory and Practice (STP)

Note: The Social Theory and Practice Major is open to ALL LSA Students.

The RC Social Theory and Practice Major supports students in developing the analytical and practical skills necessary for active engagement in the world and for building careers that promote equality and responsible citizenship. Faculty whose work encompasses sociology, political science, history, anthropology, economics, education, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, geography, and psychology provide students with multi-disciplinary approaches to current issues in U.S. society and the global environment. Students learn theories, methods, and strategies that enable them to understand and critique social structures and processes and to become effective actors in struggles for justice. They take core courses together, and create individual major plans tailored to their specific interests. Recent STP concentrators have pursued such topics as “Health Policy in the United States,” “Tracking Globalization in Detroit,” “Juvenile Justice in the U.S. and Senegal,” “Urban Youth Empowerment,” “Sustainable Agriculture in Michigan and Cuba,” “Peace, Policy, and Public Health,” and “Community Dialogues.”

The STP Major Advisor advises students about requirements and course options, tracks their progress through the major, and signs release forms.

The student’s faculty mentor is an intellectual guide and companion who shares the student’s academic interests. STP students are linked with an initial faculty mentor during the semester they submit a major proposal (See “c” below), however a student might have multiple faculty mentors over the years.

Major Prerequisites

Before declaring the RC Social Theory and Practice Major (typically at the end of the sophomore or early junior year), students complete the following prerequisites:

a) RCSSCI 260: Understanding Power/Theorizing Knowledge and RCSSCI 290, a one-credit course taken in the same semester that helps them prepare their Individual Major Proposal (see c below).

b) One other social science “gateway” course at the 200 or low 300 level chosen in consultation with the STP Major Advisor. The aim of the gateway courses is to introduce students to issues and approaches in the social sciences as well as to the ways questions are framed from different disciplinary perspectives.

c) An Individual Major Proposal, which outlines the student’s own plan of study and is written in consultation with a faculty mentor assigned by the 290 instructor. The proposal should specify the intellectual rationale for the major, lay out the courses that the student might take, and indicate the kind of senior project the student may complete in the final semester or year. Students may continue to meet informally with their mentors throughout their years in the STP program, or they may choose another faculty mentor as their interests change.

Major Requirements

All concentrators must complete the following requirements in addition to the prerequisites:

1) Two courses provide the institutional framework common to all students: (a) RCSSCI 301: The Origins of Social Science Thinking. This course focuses on the early development of political economy, sociology, and psychology in both Europe and the U.S.; (b) a research methods course that includes a quantitative component, usually STATS 250, SOC 310, or ECON 404.

2) A minimum of 18 credits (at least six upper-level courses) providing the thematic framework for the major as tentatively outlined in the student’s proposal . These 18 credits include: (a) a second social science theory course, (b) a practicum/community engagement course, and (c) electives.

3) RCSSCI 460: Senior Project Seminar. Typically taken by all STP majors during the Fall of the senior year.

4) Completion of a Senior Project. This requirement, considered the culmination of the major, is usually completed through RCSSI 460 under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Students work closely with their respective faculty mentors, meeting regularly to discuss the projects and their writing. A Senior Project can take many forms:

a) One type of senior project stems from an internship or field study in the U.S. or abroad which synthesizes on-going involvement in a “real world” setting with critical and conceptual analysis and personal reflection. Typically, the project is documented in a written report of about 15-25 pages.

b) Another type of senior project is a more traditional semester-long thesis that explores themes from the student’s individual plan of study in the STP Major. The thesis is typically 30-50 pages in length, and either is organized around a series of analytical questions or makes an argument for a particular point of view or practical application.

c) Ambitious students with an overall GPS of 3.4 or higher may consider completing an Honors Thesis. This year-long empirical research and writing project of around 60 pages allows a student to pursue a particular set of original research questions developed by the student in consultation with his or her thesis advisor or other instructor (generally within the RC) who agrees to be the “first reader” of the finished work. The student takes the initiative to find a “second reader” (often outside the RC), who agrees to read and evaluate the final draft of the student’s work.

A student deemed eligible to attempt Honors typically completes the following process:

1. During the fall semester when the student is enrolled in RCSSCI 460, the student begins the research process, and the student and thesis advisor meet fairly regularly to discuss appropriate resources and preliminary plans. The student and instructor of RCSSCI 460 will also determine how much of thesis must be completed during the fall semester in order to satisfy the requirements of the Senior Seminar course.

2. As the fall semester concludes, the student, thesis advisor, and RCSSCI 460 instructor will decide if the work is to continue into the winter semester or whether the student will complete a non-Honors senior project.

3. If the student continues to write an Honors thesis in the winter semester, the student may register for up to 4 credits of Core 490, Honors Thesis.

4. At the completion of the thesis, the first and second readers agree on a level of Honors. Awarding Graduation Honors in the major for Honors candidates is not automatic. Satisfying the eligibility requirements for Honors and writing an Honors thesis does not guarantee Graduation Honors. The student’s course work in the senior year must continue to be of very high quality, and the thesis project must meet one of the standards listed below.

Honors certifies excellent intellectual and/or creative achievement and originality of thought in the honors thesis.

High Honors recognizes an unusually high level of achievement and is awarded only when the honors thesis is of outstanding quality and special originality.

Highest Honors is a rare award, given from time to time, for a truly brilliant honors thesis.

If the quality of the course work, honors thesis, and any other program-specific requirements justify the awarding of graduation with Honors in the view of the faculty readers, the student’s name and the level of the award to be received will be sent by the principal thesis advisor to the STP major advisor and the RC’s Academic Services Office, at which time the information will be forwarded to the University Recorder’s Office for posting on the final transcript and on the diploma.

Social Theory and Practice Faculty and Their Interests

Charlie Bright history; global, geopolitics and war; punishment and prisons; U.S. politics; Detroit.

David Burkam schooling; gender, race, and social inequities in educational access; research methods; statistics.

Sueann Caulfield Latin American history, emphasis on Brazil; gender, sexuality, and human rights.

Jeff Evans psychology of creativity; clinical psychology; neuropsychology, concept of the person.

Hank Greenspan holocaust and genocide; clinical psychology; oral history; health policy.

Ashley Lucas arts practice and incarceration, theatre for social change, impact of incarceration on families, Latina/o Studies, comparative ethic studies.

Michelle McClellan addiction; public history; historical preservation and sustainability; Michigan history; Detroit.

Virginia Murphy environmental justice; social justice; sustainability.

Jennifer Myers developmental psychology; early adult development, impact of illness on development.

Ian Robinson Comparative and international political economy; unions and labor movements; organizing for social justice; ethical consumption; worker rights and trade policy; neoliberal and alternative models of North American integration; Mexican labor migration; the situation of Mexican workers in the U.S. economy; political struggles in Mexico; the corporatization of higher education; the pedagogy of experiential and community service learning.

Heather Thompson Justice; Crime; Prisons; Cities; Detroit; Labor; Policing.

Stephen Ward African-American history; the Black Power Movement; community-based political activism; urban studies; Detroit.

Revised 9-10-2015

Individualized Major Program (IMP)

The Residential College offers the opportunity to formulate an individualized major to RC students unable to find an existing degree program that meets their specific academic needs and interests. Highly-motivated students with strong academic records wishing to pursue this option must have a good idea of what they want to achieve, consult with RC faculty and (where appropriate) other UM faculty, and develop a carefully thought out academic plan of study. Many students’ interdisciplinary interests, however, can be pursued through the RC Social Theory and Practice or the RC Arts and Ideas in the Humanities Programs, making an individualized major unnecessary.

Students interested in this option should start by discussing the matter with the designated facilitator for the RC Individualized Major Program (IMP), whose name can be obtained at the RC Academic Services Office in 1813 East Quad. With the assistance of the IMP Facilitator, the student will need to identify one or two faculty members -- at least one of whom is usually on the RC faculty -- willing to serve as her or his IMP advisor(s). The student's IMP advisor(s) will help the student formulate an appropriate academic plan of study, and that plan must be approved by the advisor(s), the IMP Facilitator, and the RC IMP Review Committee before the student can formally declare the individualized major.

After the major is declared, the student should continue to consult with her or his IMP advisor(s) at least once a term before registering for courses in the following term. Students should also meet regularly with the IMP Facilitator to review their general academic progress. Completion of the major will be certified by the IMP Facilitator in consultation with the major advisor(s).

Note: Students who wish to declare an IMP degree are strongly advised to do so by the end of their sophomore year. Under exceptional circumstances an IMP degree may be approved as late as during the junior year, but in no cases during the senior year.

 

THE IMP PROPOSAL

Students who wish to declare an IMP degree must prepare a proposal that includes the following elements:

1. A descriptive title for the major (as brief as possible).

2. A characterization of the major, describing in a coherent fashion the intellectual themes and issues to be studied, how they are related, what disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches will be brought to bear, and why the student cannot attain her or his educational objectives within any existing RC or LSA major (this statement ordinarily requires 3-4 pages of well-considered text).

3. A cumulative listing of all proposed coursework organized to reflect the intellectual themes described in the proposal. The listing should distinguish between (a) pre-requisite courses (below the 300 level); (b) upper-level courses the student has already completed (or is currently enrolled in); and (c) tentative upper-level courses that the student expects to take in the future to complete the study plan. Each course* should be identified by title, division or department, course number, section number (if applicable), credit hours, term and year of completed. No more than half the proposed major courses may be completed and/or currently elected at the time the IMP proposal is submitted.

4. The final page of the proposal should include the name(s) of the student’s IMP major advisor(s), followed by their signature(s) indicating approval of the proposed major and plan of study. At least one of the advisors approving an individualized major is usually from the RC faculty; but a second advisor may be associated with any other UM unit.

The IMP proposal is typically around five pages in length (3-4 pages of text, plus lists of courses). Once the proposal is completed as outlined above, a dated copy must be submitted to the IMP Facilitator who will pass it on to the RC IMP Review Committee. After approval, the IMP Facilitator will then sign the official declaration form to be filed with the RC Academic Services Office.

* Note: in the case of courses taken at another university and/or in a foreign country, at least the course title and (transferred) credit hours must be provided.

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE IMP

The academic plan of study of an individualized major must meet the following requirements:

1. at least 30 credit-hours of upper-level (300-level or above) courses;
2. no more than 6 credit-hours outside of the College of LSA;
3. IMP students may elect a second major, but no courses may be used for both an IMP and a second major (a maximum of one course may be used for both the IMP and a minor);
4. no courses used for an IMP may be included in a distribution plan (courses for second major may be used, but IMP courses are always excluded);
5. courses from departments where an IMP student has 12 or more credits in the IMP plan may not be used for distribution credit;
6. a graduating essay, a non-Honors thesis project, or an Honors thesis in the senior year.

The graduating essay is a concluding report that summarizes the student's experience with the individualized major. Ordinarily about 10-12 pages in length, it is intended to be (a) in part a reflective intellectual autobiography describing the development of the student's understanding of her/his chosen field, and (b) in part an evaluation of the strengths and the weaknesses of the major. The graduating essay is to be submitted to the IMP Facilitator and to the student's IMP advisor, with whom the student may sign up for one credit-hour of independent study.

A non-Honors research project, typically completed in the final semester, is designed as a culmination of the student’s intellectual work. The project may be completed as part of a senior-level research seminar, an internship or field study leading to a critical, written report, or an independent study (typically 15-40 pages). A student may enroll in Core 410, Senior Project, and receive 1-4 credits for the project (which counts toward the 30 credits of the IMP).

 

Honors IMP

Students with an overall GPA of 3.4 or above who wish to pursue an Honors IMP degree should meet with the IMP facilitator before the start of their senior year in order to discuss a possible Honors thesis, a year-long empirical research and writing project (usually around 60 or more pages). Admission into an Honors IMP degree usually occurs after the student has already been approved for an IMP degree, but interested students may discuss this matter with the IMP Facilitator during the proposal stage.

A student deemed eligible to attempt honors must complete the following process:

1. By the beginning of the first term of the student’s senior year, the student must form an Honors Advising Committee consisting of a principal Honors advisor and one other faculty member. At least one of the advising committee members must be a member of the faculty of the Residential College.

2. The student must prepare a written proposal for the honors thesis project by the end of the second week of the first term of the student’s senior year. A meeting with the Honors Advising Committee (and the IMP Facilitator) must then be scheduled for a date prior to the end of the drop/add period, for the purpose of discussing the proposal and determining its feasibility.

3. If the honors project is indeed deemed feasible, the student will ordinarily enroll (under the section number of the principal and/or RC member of the advising committee) in RC Core 489, Honors Independent Research, for 1-4 credits. The number of credits will be determined by the principal honors advisor in consultation with the student.

4. At the end of the first term of the student’s senior year, the student’s Honors Advising Committee will evaluate the research the student has accomplished and determine if the student may proceed to complete an honors thesis.

5. If the student is allowed to write an honors thesis, the student will register for Core 490, Honors Thesis, for 4 credits.

6. If the student is not permitted to write an honors thesis, the student may either: a) totally discontinue the project; the student will receive credit for Core 489 at the discretion of the student’s advising committee (and the credit will be applied to the student's IMP plan); or b) if the advising committee permits, register for Core 410, Senior Project, and complete the project without the possibility of honors.


Levels of Honors:

RC Graduation Honors are awarded by the honors advising committee. Awarding Graduation Honors in the major for honors candidates is not automatic. Satisfying the eligibility requirements for honors and writing an honors thesis does not guarantee Graduation Honors. The student’s course work in the senior year must continue to be of very high quality, and the thesis project must meet one of the standards listed below.

As in LSA, there are three classes of Honors awarded within the RC: Honors, High Honors and Highest Honors. In all Honors awards, the honors thesis is of central importance. The Residential College interprets the awards as follows:

Honors certifies excellent intellectual and/or creative achievement and originality of thought in the honors thesis.

High Honors recognizes an unusually high level of achievement and is awarded only when the honors thesis is of outstanding quality and special originality.

Highest Honors is a rare award, given from time to time, for a truly brilliant honors thesis.

If the quality of the course work, honors thesis, and any other program-specific requirements justify the awarding of graduation with Honors in the view of the Honors Advising Committee, the student’s name and the level of the award to be received will be forwarded by the principal honors advisor to the head of the major program. The program head will forward this information through the Residential College’s Counseling Office to the University Recorder’s Office for posting on the final transcript and on the diploma.