Click to expand. Illustration by Louise Leong.

UCSC welcomes two new majors, a minor and a program this quarter. Some fields of study already existed, while others are completely fresh to the campus’ academic offerings.

1. Dance Minor

UC Santa Cruz students can now declare a minor in dance. Demonstrated student interest in focused studies and the lasting stronghold of several dance clubs and annual performances at UCSC contributed to its approval. Associate professor of dance Ted Warburton said he has long felt the need for a stronger dance community on campus.

“There are dance pockets everywhere,” Warburton said. “A lot of students would come to me saying, ‘We have a body of knowledge, and we want credit for what we are doing!’”

Currently the minor consists of pre-existing courses and focuses on cross-cultural technique and theory. Warburton said he believes student response could go many different ways and is expecting to adapt the minor to suit their growing interests.

Previously, dance classes had either been taken as part of the theater major, for GE credit or for fun.

Chelsea Moreno, a fourth-year molecular biology major, said she thinks it will benefit the campus community.

“Getting involved with the dance program at UCSC has basically been based on who you know,” Moreno said. “Having a minor in dance, with structure, will make it easier for students to get involved.”

An informational meeting will be held this Friday regarding the minor.

2. Robotics Engineering; Network and Digital Technology

Robotics engineering and networking and digital technology are the newest engineering majors available at UC Santa Cruz.

A robotics and control emphasis already exists in the computer engineering major and some students may transfer to the robotics engineering major, said computer engineering professor Martine Schlag.

“There’s a lot of interest from our little corner of the world … We think we’re going to start attracting a lot more people than expected,” said computer engineering professor Gabriel Elkaim.

The creation of the major did not require any additional funding, and Elkaim said they are “leveraging” everything they have. One course was added to the division and the major has 14 pre-majors.

Second-year robotics engineering major Pavlo Manovi said electrical engineering and computer engineering, which are already majors at UCSC, are necessary to work in this industry.

“You need to have a relationship between the two and robotics engineering does that,” Manovi said.

Network and digital technology was approved on the very last day of spring quarter.

“This degree is intended for students who have an interest in the technology, but don’t aspire to be engineers,” said computer engineering chair J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves in an article on the UCSC webpage. “They won’t be building computer systems, but they will understand systems and networks and will be prepared to work in teams with engineers.”

3. Sikh and Punjabi Studies

Sikh and Punjabi studies pulls on different UC Santa Cruz divisions as economics professor Nirvikar Singh holds the humanities program’s Sarbjit Singh Aurora endowed chair.

The chair, awarded to Singh in March 2011, will sponsor the “Sikh and Punjabi Studies: Achievements and New Directions” conference in November.

Thirty-four students are participating in the new program this quarter by taking its first class, “Introduction to the Sikhs,” which Singh teaches on top of his regular load of economics classes.

“I wanted to get [the class] started for a direct impact on the students,” Singh said.

Singh called on students to help him shape the program, and some are taking their own initiative. Third-year Harbir Mahal is creating a website for the whole Sikh community at UCSC, and is enrolled in the course.

“There’s so many religions within India,” Mahal said. “It’ll be good for people to learn about [Sikhism] and hopefully it’ll clear up misconceptions and stereotypes.”