LGBT minor gets more accessible

Lydia Coutré

Coordinators of the LGBT studies minor are updating the program to make it more student-friendly.

“We’re working for maximum flexibility and maximum content,” said Dan Nadon, associate professor and co-coordinator for the minor.

The LGBT studies minor will undergo its first curriculum change since it began in 2001, a process Nadon said is long overdue.

“Basically we’re trying to revamp the curriculum so that people who are in the LGBT minor can be sure that the course they’re taking will have LGBT content,” he said.

Classes for the minor were split into two sections. Block A courses contained at least 50 percent LGBT content, and Block B courses had less than 50 percent.

Molly Merryman, associate professor and co-coordinator for the minor, said they plan to eliminate nine of the 11 options from Block B courses and absorb the remaining two into Block A to make it a more meaningful minor.

Faculty affiliates, professors who help teach minor courses, approved this change last Friday with 10 “yes” votes and one abstention.

Nadon said dropped courses wouldn’t be a disadvantage for students because they will “balance out” with new classes they plan to add.

Because creating new courses is a long process, they will increase special topics courses, which can be approved quicker. This will give students more options until regular courses are added.

They will also be changing the final step in the minor. Past students only had the option of an individual investigation as a capstone to complete the program.

“We’ve talked to a number of students currently enrolled in the program that do feel a sense of intimidation about doing an individual investigation,” Merryman said.

They will develop a new capstone course and allow two existing classes — Sociology of Gays and Lesbians and Gay and Lesbian Theater — to fulfill this final requirement. This was also approved at Friday’s meeting.

Senior general studies major Trae Ruscin is working toward the minor.

“I feel like really the only challenge with the minor was the individual investigation which we don’t have to do anymore if we don’t want to,” Ruscin said.

Merryman said they hope to make the minor more available by offering classes online. Completing the minor at some regional campuses often required students to come to the Kent campus for classes, which she said was “too much of an obstacle.”

This will start in spring when Merryman teaches the introduction course online. She said affiliates are encouraged to make an online version of a minor class they already plan to teach.

For students who can’t commit 21 hours to the minor, Merryman said they will develop a certificate program that requires about 10 hours. This would allow students in majors with tight curriculums to still get a certificate.

Merryman said they also want to expand scholarships. They received an unreleased amount of money from the Akron chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a national non-profit organization. She said she hopes this will encourage more people to donate. The scholarships from the PFLAG money will be available next fall.

Merryman said they are trying to continue to increase the number of faculty affiliates in the program. They added four this year.

“The more that we get in talented faculty who have a background, either research or teaching in LGBT, then the more courses we can be offering,” Merryman said.

Nadon said they have more than tripled the number of affiliates since 2001, and he wants to see the program continue to grow.

“We would like to see the program be so friendly that it could work with people across the board in all majors and that we could effectively draw in people from all corners of the campus and work them through the program,” Nadon said.

You can contact Lydia Coutré at [email protected].