by Diana Senechal
Boise, Idaho—In a press conference last week, Ombligo University officials announced that they had created a new major in the self, effective immediately.
“We were concerned with the gap between students’ interests and the existing majors,” explained Carlie Greenhorn, director of development. “Research revealed that our customers are interested in themselves first and foremost. So we created a major to meet this demand.”
The logistical challenges are easily overcome, according to Mark Samposebe, dean of undergraduate studies. “True, there aren’t too many courses you can offer on the self, since the self is its own authority. But we do plan to offer courses on self-discovery. Of course, we will require students to take a variety of courses in the humanities and sciences as well. However, instead of doing the regular work for those classes, they will write about how they feel about them. That way, they can take a course in quantum physics without worrying about the part that’s extraneous to their major.”
“It’s a win-win situation,” added Ellen Turnum, head of academic marketing. “Enrollment in physics courses will go up, meaning more money for the physics department, but the physics professors won’t have to worry about offering remedial help.”
At a high school in Boise, 80 percent of students indicated that they would choose Ombligo on account of its new major.
“It’s just so amazing that they’re doing this,” said Rebecca Lahoy, a high school junior. “I was all stressed out about the things I’d have to learn in college. Majoring in the self is cool, because, like, well, I’m cool, right?” She giggled and resumed her texting.
“The self is not as trivial a matter as some suppose, nor need the study of it be solipsistic,” objected Jeremy Brouchard, Lahoy’s classmate. “I believe that it is better achieved, however, through rigorous study of a particular field. That is one of many reasons why I am not applying to Ombligo.”
When Brouchard’s comment was relayed to Greenhorn, she shook her head and clicked her tongue. “That’s a strange way of looking at things,” she said. “At Ombligo we believe in the straight line, just as the Greeks did. Yes, maybe you can learn about yourself by studying math or literature, but that takes a long time. Want to know the self? Then study the self. Simple as that.”
While Ombligo is the first accredited university to offer such a major, scholars note that this is part of a long-term trend.
“Students are well prepared for this development,” said Percy Turnbuckle, professor of curriculum history at the Gouden School of Education. “In elementary school, they write every day about ‘small moments’ in their lives. In high school, they write small fragments on Facebook about even smaller moments. By the time they enter college, they are fully prepared to reject any other line of thought.”
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