By Jamie McLeod
I have a minor philosophical problem with Ryerson.
In three years, I’ve managed to take a total of six philosophy courses; all the professionally related courses offered, and as many liberal studies as they’ll let me take. And now that I’ve basically maxed out the number of philosophy courses I can take for credit, Ryerson won’t give me a minor in philosophy because Ryerson doesn’t have a minor in philosophy.
Ryerson has been offering minors since 1990, and now students can get a minor in 25 different disciplines.
You can get an accounting or sociology minor. You can get a management of information and telecommunication or even a non-profit and voluntary sector management minor. But not philosophy. Can’t get history, French, or geography, either.
Other aspects of Ryerson’s minor policy seem a bit confusing; students can get a minor in biology or chemistry but not physics.
At Ryerson, it takes six professionally related courses in a field of study to get a minor.
According to Barbara Soutar, the acting associate registrar for Academic Services, the reason for this is that minors at Ryerson aim to be more professionally related.
There simply aren’t enough professionally related courses in philosophy or history for a minor. The onus is on departments to see a need for a minor and work to create it.
“Ryerson is unlike other universities, so you have to be mindful of the difference between liberal studies and professionally related courses,” said Rob Murray, chair of the philosophy department.
Murray told me that my complaint isn’t a new one, and that he’s looking into the obstacles involved in creating a liberal studies minor.
“I get asked every year why we can’t have a minor in philosophy,” he said. “Would I like to? Yes.”
Aino Lokk from Ryerson’s Career Centre told me that a minor in politics might help me if I was trying to get a job as a political journalist, but a philosophy minor probably wouldn’t do me much good anyway. The bottom line here for me is that I know a philosophy minor isn’t a big deal in the long run. I know it will probably never get me a job, and since there’s a good chance I’ll take a masters in philosophy anyway, it won’t matter much.
But when I get drunk and belligerent and start telling people that making me pay for the next game of pool is contrary to Kant’s categorical imperative, I look like a fool.
And because Ryerson hates me, I can’t even shrug and say sheepishly, “I minored in philosophy.”