1. The Double Meaning of the Title
  2. What changes are needed in the concept of "majoring" in the 21st century?
  3. Why should I major in the 21st century?
  4. What should I study if I want to major in the 21st century?
  5. What majors should a liberal arts college offer in the 21st century?
    1. One of the most frequent (almost knee-jerk) reactions to (perceived) world change is to offer new majors. In fact, though, the process of major creation is probably not always one of rational assessment of the world.
  6. Was majoring in earlier centuries a different proposition?
    1. Evaluating the "everything is changing and more unpredictable" thesis
    2. Who majored in the 20th century?

Where do majors come from?

Diffusion and Imitation

Some schools have a major, students start suggesting they are interested in that major, the schools that want to recruit those students feel like they have to start offering that major.

What Good are Majors?

  1. Majors as signals: tells employers what you know, what language you speak
  2. Majors as trail map: tells student what to study, in what order, etc.
  3. Majors as product:
  4. Major as menu component.
  5. Minor as signal.
  6. Minor as organizing tool. If a student wants to complement her major area with some other body of knowledge, the minor offers an organizing scheme on the assumption that the value of an organized set of N courses is superior to the same number of courses chosen haphazardly.
  7. Minor as certification and credential. If student is going to use minor as a signal, the value of that signal depends on some regulation. Make "I minored in math" a more valuable signal than "I took some math courses."
  8. Minor as marketing ploy. Departments use minors as was to turn the enrollment in a course or two into enrollment in a half dozen or so courses.

The Question of Majors

Employers ask individuals "what did you major in?" and they ask themselves "what kind of majors are we looking for?" and then think both "what do X majors tend to know?" and "what do X majors tend to be like?"

Schools ask students what they want to major in. Interaction partners ask "what is your major?"

Students ask "what should I major in?"

We can divide these questions into information questions and strategic questions. The strategic questions translate into "what will I be good at?" "what

The Life Cycle of Majors