‘A wide variety of topics’: National security, military affairs minor proposed

Photo of Hearst Gymansium
Eric Zhao/File
The proposed national security minor is intended to be interdisciplinary, attracting students majoring in anything from philosophy to engineering.

Related Posts

A proposal for a national security minor is currently in the works, although still in the early stages.

Ryan Chen, the current contact for questions about the minor, is the Reserve Officers Training Corps, or ROTC, liaison for the ASUC Office of the Executive Vice President. Andy Theocharous, UC Berkeley alumnus and a previous liaison, was one of the first students involved when discussions surrounding the minor began nearly three years ago.

“We hope to get it approved, and this is an ambitious goal, so that it is ready to go by fall of next year,” Chen said. “Our rough timeline is to scope out student interest and solidify our proposal for the curriculum this semester… then next semester hit hard at the lobbying of faculty members and administration to pass the minor.”

According to Chen, military affairs and national security programs at many universities are officially codified into the curriculum as a minor or major, but not at UC Berkeley. Chen noted that this is surprising, as UC Berkeley is one of the few campuses that house all three branches of the ROTC program: Air Force, Army and Navy.

Chen also noted that advocating for a new minor is challenging, as there is no clear path for students to follow. He hopes that passing this minor can help solidify a path for students who also wish to start a minor on campus.

While Chen has mostly worked with ROTC students, he wanted to make clear that this minor is intended to be interdisciplinary, attracting students majoring in anything from philosophy to engineering.

“National security, broadly speaking, encompasses a wide variety of topics including election interference, foreign policy, social media, climate change … a lot of things that are really concerning for students and aren’t necessarily limited to just the military,” Chen said.

Chen added that the minor will likely include courses from disciplines including history, global studies, political science, information and engineering. Currently, the curriculum proposal is composed of preexisting classes, but Chen said they are open to proposing new courses if students believe there is a need.

According to Theocharous, the minor will likely run through the College of Letters and Science, as Bob Jacobsen, dean of undergraduate studies for Letters and Science, has given the minor his support.

According to Jacobsen, minors can only be created by campus faculty and other instructional units, meaning that students cannot directly create minors.

“Students certainly have advocated for minors, which can help drive faculty interest and create additional student interest,” Jacobsen said in an email. “There have been a few minors where that was a big part.”

Taylor Rudman is an academics and administration repoter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @TaylorRudman.