New A&S minors offer studies of Vikings, policy, capitalism and prisons

By: Anna Carmichael,  A&S Communications
September 14, 2016

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences can now sign up for four new minors – Viking studies; public policy; history of capitalism; and crime, prisons, education and justice.

The Viking studies minor allows students to study the Viking age (ca. 800-1100 in Europe, especially northern Europe) from historical, literary, linguistic and environmental angles.

“Norsemen in the Viking Age roamed from central Asia to America and from North Africa to the Arctic Circle, teaching their own lessons about issues that still occupy us today: migration and empire-building, globalization and multi-culturalism, the rule of law and its sometimes violent conflicts with the politics of personal ambition,” said Oren Falk, associate professor of history.

The minor will provide students with a significant internationalizing experience, through language study, exposure to the literature and history of the Norse zone and study abroad, Falk said. Cornell is one of few North American universities offering Old Norse languages and the Fiske Icelandic Collection offers one of the finest libraries in the field, he said.

The public policy minor will be housed in the government department because of its numerous courses that analyze how political process and public policy are related. Public policy will be analyzed in many contexts and regions, including the United States, Africa, China, Europe, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

“Public policies provide tools to address myriad challenges facing society,” explained Suzanne Mettler, the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions in the government department. “Yet reformers’ hopes are often spurned and experts’ knowledge ignored as innovative policy ideas fail to get enacted or if they are, to produce promised results. Public policies are created and implemented through inherently political processes, and therefore the chances for their success or failure, as well as unanticipated consequences, cannot be understood without attention to politics.” 

The minor in the history of capitalism will expose students to many perspectives on capitalism, enabling them to critically reflect on economic institutions and ideas.

“Capitalism has delivered unrivaled prosperity, but with unparalleled social costs,” said Lawrence Glickman, professor of history. “Understanding capitalism’s past is essential to understanding our world today – as well as tomorrow.” Courses will help students deepen their understanding of what capitalism is, how it has come to be and reflect on capitalism in different parts of the world.

The crime, prisons, education and justice minor has been created for students interested in mass incarceration and the criminal justice system. Students pursuing this minor will study one of the most important civil rights challenges of the 21st century. 

Because students in the minor will also serve as teaching students in the Cornell Prison Education Program, “the minor teaches what no classroom experience can impart: that knowledge is intrinsically valuable, and that all human beings can be redeemed,” said Joseph Margulies, professor of government and law. “It is civic engagement with a profound moral purpose that leads to a rare degree of cultural competence.”

Anna Carmichael is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

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