Go to content, skip over navigation


More Pages

Go to content, skip over visible header bar
Home News Features Arts & Entertainment Sports OpinionAbout Contact Advertise

Note about Unsupported Devices:

You seem to be browsing on a screen size, browser, or device that this website cannot support. Some things might look and act a little weird.

Small but mighty

March 1, 2024

This piece represents the opinion of the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board.

This year, the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies (LACLaS) program celebrated its 25th anniversary at Bowdoin. This weekend will be packed with programming, including speakers, a concert and the College’s first-ever bilingual theater production.

To us, this celebration serves as a reminder of how unique, vibrant and fun smaller departments are. In 2023, only 12 students majored in LACLaS. However, the department offers some of the most interdisciplinary courses at Bowdoin. This is why we encourage students to invest in the small departments, both through taking the courses they offer and attending their events.

Engaging with small departments affords students the truest form of the liberal arts experience. Learning how to think and engage in critical conversations about any topic happens best in the small classes characteristic of small departments, giving students a unique space to use their voice and build collaborative people skills.

A quintessential Bowdoin education is a five-person class talking about a niche poem, watching a multilingual film or reenacting Shakespeare on the museum steps. It’s introducing yourself to new ideas, collaborating on a project over Thorne lunches and having those “light-bulb” moments.

Our first year at Bowdoin has always been framed as a time to take whatever classes we want. From the moment we step foot on campus, your pre-major advisor encourages us to utilize our first four semesters to explore all the classes Bowdoin has to offer.

First years, use the leeway you have to enroll in classes that the smaller departments have to offer. Upperclassmen, this exploration doesn’t have to stop after your first year—it should continue throughout your time at Bowdoin when the opportunity arises.

Taking courses in small departments also means getting to spend time in some quirky spaces rather than sterile lecture halls. There’s the small, cozy room occupied by the Russian department in Hubbard Hall, the Riley House where students can sip espresso while attending learning assistant sessions and Copeland House, which is filled with adorable, little study nooks (and a mural painted by a visiting artist and LACLaS students last year!).

Not to mention, as universities across the country continue to cut departmental budgets and majors, the residential liberal arts college model is increasingly rare. Bowdoin is an exception to this trend. Take advantage of the opportunities within smaller departments.

Even if you don’t have room in your schedule next semester, there are countless opportunities to engage with these departments outside of the classroom.

This past week, the religion department brought an art exhibit to campus highlighting a global movement against religious and gender persecution. Just last month, the digital and computational studies department hosted a guest speaker to talk about the rise of artificial intelligence.

Not to mention, small departments often have a significant amount of funding for their size. Students should utilize these resources to support research, opportunities abroad and summer work.

One of the most wonderful things about Bowdoin is that you can arrive here having never heard of these departments, but they still greet you with enthusiasm. Take advantage of that. The departments can offer more than your wildcard fourth class you take for fun. Although they may seem like fun ways to dabble in other topics, don’t stop there.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is composed of Abdullah Hashimi, Kristen Kinzler, Chase Lenk, Aleena Nasruddin, Sam Pausman and Juliana Vandermark.


Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy:

  • No hate speech, profanity, disrespectful or threatening comments.
  • No personal attacks on reporters.
  • Comments must be under 200 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use a real name or identifier ("Class of '92").
  • Any comments made with an email address that does not belong to you will get removed.

Leave a Reply

Any comments that do not follow the policy will not be published.

0/200 words