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The Benefits of Wake Forests Divisional Requirements

Why a universitys most complained about classes are the most beneficial to us
By Alexandra Warnock
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As a communication major with an interest in advertising, Ill admit I never really saw
the point in learning Boolean theory and how to communicate using only zeros and ones. Flash
forward to my first advertising internship. I worked with a team of marketing and computer
science interns to develop a website for our advertising agencys client. It was essential that we
all communicate our plans to one another.
This could have potentially been a difficult task given the confusing nature of computing.
However, because of my introduction to computer science through Wake Forests divisional
requirements, I had the background knowledge I needed to have an educated conversation about
computer science with my fellow interns. I could even contribute to their brainstorming based on
my prior knowledge of computer science.
I have found that my knowledge of subjects outside of my major and minors isnt only
useful in the professional realm. My ability to relate to people I meet in majors outside of my
own has been a useful social tool. Whether its talking to an art major about their work or asking
a philosophy major about their view on contemporary issues, I have benefited socially from my
knowledge of fields outside of my major.
While relating to others outside of your major may seem like an obvious benefit to taking
divisional requirements, I recently learned that there is so much more to be gained from
branching out from your major. After attending a talk by alumni Kelly Murdoch-Kitt and Jim
Argenta titled Design is ______, I realized there is even more to be gained from an
interdisciplinary liberal arts education.
The Rochester Institute of Technology design professor and architect talked about how
their background at Wake Forest paved the way for their professional careers in design. They
spoke to how the culture of exploration fostered at Wake Forest helped lead them to their
creative careers and expand their horizons. Although a career in design is not for everyone, I
thought there was a great lesson to be learned from the alumni event on how we can expand our
horizons and freshen our approach to projects that we take on because of our diverse
backgrounds.
In Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation by R. Keith Sawyer,
Sawyer discusses creativitys benefits which include enhancing our problem solving, leadership
and mental health. Sawyer believes that creativity is not innate and can be enhanced by certain
actions. Scientists have discovered that explaining creativity requires understanding not only
individual inspiration but also social factors like collaboration, networks of support, education,
and cultural background, Sawyer said.

The evidence that creativity can not only help us but be learned and enhanced through
collaboration suggests that there is a lot to be gained by learning multiple subjects.
In Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation, David Edwards tells the story
of Diana Dabby, a concert pianist who was looking to innovate her work. Dabby pursued a
degree in engineering in order to further her discoveries in the music field, ultimately using
chaos to generate musical variations. By studying two completely different subjects, Dabby was
able to enhance her work both as an engineer and a concert musician. The case of Dabby shows
how we can improve our professional work and gain new perspectives by studying new subjects.
Instead of complaining about divisional requirements we should be asking how we can
make our school more interdisciplinary. What if we had less required for our actual major and
more exploration as part of our academic requirements? What if we had to choose majors instead
of one singular major? The divisional requirements at Wake Forest seem like a small feat in
comparison to the work creative individuals like Dabby have done to further their creative
discoveries.
In a world with no strict major there could potentially be less divisions among
universities. Students would be less inclined to hang out solely within their own major.
Socializing with others in different majors could give us new insights on the work we hope to do
in the future.
I cant help but wonder how my future in advertising could be changed if I had taken
more science classes. I wonder if I could be more of an asset creatively and socially had I
minored in computer science or taken more classes outside of the communication field. While it
may be too late for me to change my course of study, I hope that others can learn from the
benefits of an interdisciplinary education.
In an increasingly business-minded world, our education systems have become overly
structured with strict major requirements. We should celebrate divisional requirements as an
opportunity to break free from the structure of our own major and explore the world of higher
education.