Student uses Simpson College program to build major


by Kylee Hereid, reporter

A Simpson College junior is taking steps toward changing the world using her unique passions and skills, taking advantage of a Simpson College program to make that change happen.

Victoria Halloran began this journey last spring when she was talking to her advisor about what she would want to pursue for her future and what she should get involved in.

“I joked that I wished I could just create my own major and my advisor told me that it was actually an option,” Halloran said. “After finding out about that, I looked at it as an opportunity to take full advantage of the liberal arts experience. I can make connections now between different majors where I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise!”

Now, Halloran is applying for the Independent Interdisciplinary Major (IIM). According to the Simpson College website, the IIM is a process that allows students who have a passion for an area that is not covered in any Simpson majors or minors to design their own major and have it approved by the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee (EPCC).

The major Halloran is creating would be called Community and Sustainability. It would include classes from the departments of sustainability, sociology, public relations, and international relations.

“The issues that I want to address are not going to be solved through only one method of thinking. This major would take four different ways of thinking and bridge the gaps on how to reach more people, make change and find solutions to our problems,” Halloran said.

To apply for an IIM, a student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and completed between 32 and 96 credits toward a Simpson degree. If a student is eligible and their desired major cannot be acquired through any other offered degrees, they must submit an application to the IIM coordinator and committee for advisement. 

“I met with three different advisors and am working with them to complete my proposal,” Halloran said. “They will tell me what things they think I should change or rephrase and then the advisory committee will also tell me what kinds of things I should address before it is submitted.”

According to the Simpson website, to be considered complete, the major must have a minimum of 11 courses and a senior project spanning at least two academic departments. Once the application is complete, it is presented to the EPCC for consideration.

For Halloran, all of this hard work is well worth the educational experience she will acquire with the IIM. She believes by pulling skills from the four different departments, she will be better equipped to educate the public about environmental issues and make a change that she feels must be made.

“I think it is great that we have scientists who are studying the environment and finding better ways to live sustainable lives, but if we don’t have someone in the position of presenting that information to the public, then the work that is being done is going to be lost,” Halloran said. “I’m trying to be a connection, bridging the gap between the environment and our society, because this issue is important to me.”

She also hopes to study abroad during her remaining time at Simpson College and says that the education received while abroad is especially valuable.

“There is a certain balance for what we take from the environment and what we give back. We have been taking so much and up until recently we haven’t really realized just how much,” Halloran said. “By living in a different culture and seeing how others live – which is so different than the way that we live – we can see what kinds of changes we should make. We can help each other.”

If her proposal does not pass, Halloran will accept an alternate degree in sociology with minors in sustainability and public relations. If it does pass, however, she does not plan to spend more than the expected four years at Simpson.

After graduation, Halloran wishes to use her degree as she works for non-profit organizations, maybe even the Peace Corps.

Halloran said, “I’ve unintentionally been building up to what it is I’ve realized I want to do. I am so thankful that Simpson offers this opportunity for me to take what it is that I want to do and sculpt it into a major.”