Melissa Miller: A dire need for more professors

You might think it would be a good thing to be popular. But right about now, anthropology majors are probably wishing classes in their department weren’t such hot commodities.

With increasingly competitive registration for anthropology classes, the department is struggling to accommodate its own majors.

The problem is that upper-level classes quickly fill up with students from the Elliott School of International Affairs looking to satisfy their requirements with anthropology or geography classes.

The University should respond to the high demand by allowing the department to hire more professors.

Despite the growing need, the anthropology department has experienced considerable pushback from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ administration in response to its plea for more professors.

It’s impossible to just push Elliott School students out of these classes. They need to take them to fulfill requirements like conflict and security and international development. Like students in every school, they have a strict curriculum to follow.

But students don’t just enroll in these classes because they’re requirements. They may take a course and decide they love the subject and choose to double-major in it.

Just because the number of students in the Elliott School taking anthropology courses is going up doesn’t mean that the University shouldn’t accommodate CCAS anthropology students. In reality, all students in the major should be treated equally and given the opportunity to enroll in small, discussion-based courses.

The solution is to increase the number of sections taught in the department. And that can only happen if there are more professors.

Having more professors in the anthropology department would also improve the University’s commitment to research, since it is a discipline with extensive field research opportunities.

The department has searched for ways to prioritize their own majors for these upper-level anthropology courses, but the only way they’ve managed to do so has been by increasing class sizes, which is detrimental when it comes to facilitating class discussion.

The best classes I’ve taken at GW have been smaller ones. More full-time faculty would decrease class sizes and give students an opportunity to interact more with their professors.

The University added 96 new professors this semester. And the strategic plan, which will be set in stone in February, proposes to hire another 50 to 100 faculty members in the next few years.

If the administration is committed to the strategic plan and improving all of the academic programs at the University, it is imperative to hire more professors for departments that need it.

GW shouldn’t forget that popularity is a good thing.

Melissa Miller is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.

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