College Offers Music, Film, Writing Programs
Westmont continues to innovate and respond to students’ interests by adding new programs and more choices that fit well with the liberal arts and prepare graduates for a variety of careers. Music students focused on performing can earn a Bachelor of Music once the National Association of Schools of Music approves the program. Beginning in fall 2019, two new minors, film studies and writing, will allow students to expand their studies and develop the digital, visual, and communication skills required in the workplace.
The music degree builds upon six years of significant improvements in the curriculum, including new programs in music education and worship leadership. “Students in the Bachelor of Music program will focus on performance, and their presence will enhance the choir, orchestra, and other ensembles that represent the college to the public,” says Westmont provost Mark Sargent. “These ensembles have risen to significant new heights in the last decade.”
The substantial requirements for the major (80 credits) include units from a variety of disciplines – modern languages, theater, kinesiology, physics, and mathematics – to help musicians develop as well-rounded artists and people.
The film studies minor will appeal to students interested in creating film as well as those who seek to study it. “Film is one of the foremost art forms of our time and part of a global language that teaches us about other peoples and cultures,” Sargent says. “I can envision some students completing the minor and pursuing work in the film industry; I can just as readily see others pursuing the minor because filmmaking skills and visual literacy are assets in many careers. And I hope some take it because of their genuine love of cinema as art.”
Students will explore and analyze films made around the world and will consider how the medium provides a lens into other cultures and experiences. They will also work collaboratively on concepts, storyboarding, storytelling, pre- and post-production, and public presentation of their work. A variety of departments, including theater arts, communication studies, English, religious studies, and political science, will offer courses.
“The film studies minor will strengthen Westmont’s presence in the Santa Barbara community and with our global initiatives,” Sargent says. “Our students are energetic and creative and interested in how film helps us understand our world. Santa Barbara has a rich historical connection with the film industry, and we look forward to our students more actively engaging with the annual Santa Barbara Film Festival.”
The new minor in writing will appeal to a wide variety of students who desire to supplement their major by cultivating writing skills. The 20-unit program requires work in language study and advanced composition, and grammar with electives drawn from art, communication studies, English, history, and theatre arts. Practica include work on The Horizon, the student newspaper, the Phoenix, the student literary, art, and music publication, or an internship. Students may also receive credit for undertaking a Major Honors writing project in their field.
Kahneman Examines the Mind at Luncheon
Daniel Kahneman, the self-described godfather of behavioral economics, discussed his research about the mind, intuition, and reason at a November 2 Mosher Center for Moral and Ethical Leadership luncheon in Westmont’s Global Leadership Center.
A Nobel Prize winner in economics and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kahneman wrote the bestselling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
President Gayle D. Beebe presented Kahneman with the first Westmont Global Laureate award to honor and recognize his seminal work in behavioral economics and contribution to human flourishing throughout the world.
Kahneman spent six years working with Gary Klein, a pioneer in the field of naturalistic decision-making, probing the trustworthiness of intuition. “Intuition is knowing without knowing how you know,” Kahneman said. “It often comes with a sense of great confidence. Unfortunately, many intuitions or things that feel exactly like intuitions are not worth anything. And we can be totally wrong with the same sense of knowing and the same sense of confidence that we have when we do know what we’re talking about. Sometimes we get intuitions that are useless, and sometimes we get intuitions that are marvelous.”
His research shows three conditions need to be present for valid intuitive expertise: structure, practice, and feedback.
In explaining structure, Kahneman said there should be a statistical regularity that we can pick up on. “The stock market is mostly irregular, and so people who have strong intuitions about the stock market are self-deluding,” he said. “The financial world is not regular enough to sustain valid intuition.”
Kahneman also examined why people don’t change their minds and are unable to change anyone else’s mind on things that really matter. “This is a mystery in a way because of the way we feel about ourselves: That we’re reasonable people.
“And if you ask me why I hold a belief, whether political or (otherwise), I am going to give you reasons. And reasons come immediately to my mind as soon as you ask me a question. Because they are able to find the reasons for anything they believe, they are also inclined to believe that their beliefs are caused by their reasons that they have. In fact, that is not at all the case. The truth is virtually the opposite. We believe in reasons because we believe in the conclusions. Arguments presented to us won’t change our positions.”
He went on to explain the role associative coherence plays when we align with people we love and beliefs we hold. “Because reasons play a very little role in determining our beliefs, they cannot be changed by reasons,” he said. “So the arguments that they give to us to change our positions, we can’t accept them. We want a world in which people hold positions because of the reasons that come to their mind. But we won’t reach that conclusion.”
Kahneman, who’s made profound impacts in many fields, including economics, medicine, and politics, explored how to grade exams and conduct hiring interviews.
His research shows that when grading two essay questions from each student, it’s important to evaluate each question independently, without knowing who took the test. “Otherwise, you form an impression very quickly and assimilate all the information that comes afterwards through that first impression,” he said.
Before conducting a hiring interview, Kahneman said it’s important to establish categories of job characteristics and interview for each one independently. “Delay forming an impression or intuition until you have all the information,” he said.