NYU primarily markets itself as a liberal arts school. Among the student body, our most popular majors are either based in social sciences, visual and performing arts or business. Though the main focus of NYU is not the hard sciences — physics, biology and chemistry — we have certainly been taking steps in the right direction. In his first year as president of NYU, Andrew Hamilton has been taking strides toward making science more widespread in our student body. A notable chemist himself, President Hamilton has spoken numerous times about his commitment to expanding Tandon and the hard sciences, even going so far as to commit half a billion dollars to STEM programs in the upcoming years.
The effort NYU has been making is staggering, and we certainly must commend Hamilton for his effort, but there is still something to be desired from the science program at NYU. This is especially true for the casual scientist. For the person who isn’t majoring in science, but would still like to get involved, the lack of breadth in our programs makes that difficult.
A student at NYU studying a non-science-related field has a lot of difficulty getting into science classes and also getting into the labs to do research. A student studying a social science is expected to do research in that social science. If that student were to try and get a scientific research position in a lab — positions that are already quite competitive — the chance of them receiving one is exponentially lower than if they were in the hard sciences.
Though it is important to give research opportunities to majors, we should also create some availability to non-majors. In the same way that non-Tisch students should be allowed to explore the arts, non-science majors should be allowed to engage in a field that they may be passionate about without having to engage in the immense competition that comes with going to a big school like NYU.
This problem is embodied in the way science classes are handled. Inclusion efforts should extend past laboratory jobs as well. We should have sections of science classes that are reserved for non-major students. Not just introductory physics classes but more complex electives should have sections for non-majors. Just as we have sections for Stern School of Business classes that are available to outside students, we should be allowing non-majors to explore their passions by allowing them to take advanced electives while pursuing their intended majors.
NYU should be applauded for the progres sit has made and is continuing to make in terms of science. However, when considering the expansion of our science programs, we must also consider broadening the accessibility of sciences at NYU.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Email Arushi Sahay at [email protected]