Several minors at UCLA will be undergoing name and curriculum changes effective this fall.
Every year, UCLA reviews and revises programs – while some changes reflect an evolving curriculum, other name changes are efforts to be more concise and attractive to students.
Minors that underwent changes this year include the community engagement and social change minor, the Portuguese and Brazilian studies minor, and the labor studies minor.
Community Engagement and Social Change
The community engagement and social change minor changed its name this fall from the civic engagement minor.
The change intends to better reflect the component of the curriculum that involves field-learning through community involvement, said Douglas Barrera, the associate director at UCLA Center for Community Learning, the department under which the minor is housed.
“The new name better describes what the minor is about,” Barrera said. “A big part of the minor is hands-on work that students will do in the community, which differentiates us from other academic programs that are largely theory based.”
The minor also underwent a curriculum change to make the program more flexible, said Barrera. For example, students used to have to find their own faculty member for an independent research component of the program. Now, they will be enrolled in a class where the instructor will also be their advisor.
“We are trying to increase the flexibility and take away the stress, and craft the whole minor around the community engagement experience,” Barrera said.
Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
The Portuguese minor is now becoming the Portuguese and Brazilian studies minor. The minor will offer courses on the culture and literature of Brazil in addition to courses on the Portuguese language.
The name change occurred because of the UCLA community’s growing interest in Brazilian culture and not just in the Portuguese language, said José Passos, the director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies. This differs from when the program first started in the 1970s and mostly emphasized Portuguese language and literature.
“We are not just a language minor, we do training on the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries,” Passos said. “Most of our courses and faculty members and students are interested in doing research in Brazil, not Portugal. The name of the minor confused the language name and the country.”
This change also seeks to better demonstrate that the program mainly teaches Brazilian Portuguese, Passos said.
“Most of our courses teach Brazilian Portuguese and not Peninsular Portuguese,” Passos said.
The name change is also accompanied by a curriculum change to make the program more flexible. There is an increased offering of lower-division courses to satisfy the program requirements. Additionally, students can now take English-speaking classes in other departments that have a Portuguese and Brazilian focus to fulfill minor requirements.
“The spirit of all the changes is to make the Portuguese and Brazilian offerings more accessible, more flexible and more appealing to students,” Passos said. “And to emphasize the immense diversity of perspectives that one can find in the Portuguese-speaking world.”
The labor and workplace studies minor changed its name to the labor studies minor for the sake of simplicity, said Toby Higbie, the faculty chair for Labor Studies.
Facing growing interest, the department will also be offering a major degree for the first time.
“There is student interest, and equality is a big issue of public policy concern. Students are interested in learning about race and class and intersection,” Higbie said. “(The major) is the first one offered in the University of California system.”
Other academic programs that experienced changes include the Bachelor of Arts in communication studies that will be renamed the B.A. in communication. New academic programs added this fall include a B.A. in music performance, B.A. in music composition, Master of Science and doctorate degree in communication, and Master of Arts in Indo-European studies.