MACOMB — Western Illinois University’s budding cannabis curriculum added a second minor this week.
According to a WIU news release, the university’s faculty senate approved Cannabis and Culture, a minor to be offered within the school’s college of arts and sciences, at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The 18-to-19-credit-hour minor will include a mix of courses from the fields of botany, history, anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, liberal arts and sciences, and political science. Some course titles are Religion and Drugs, Introduction to Public Policy, and Ethnobotany and Contemporary Moral Problems.
Sarah Haynes, a WIU professor in the college’s liberal arts and sciences department who teaches anthropology and religious studies, partnered with fellow professor Heather McIlvaine-Newsad to create the minor. The process began about six months ago, Haynes said Wednesday.
The classes won’t involve the handling of cannabis, which means they will be open to students of all ages. There are some restrictions for the cannabis production minor in the university’s agriculture department, also to be launched during WIU’s fall 2020 term.
“We will have the courses up and running in the fall. We’ll start offering them, and the intention is to put it all online,” Haynes said.
Putting the core classes of the minor online, as well as exploring how many electives to make available, means the minor will be available to students at the Macomb and Quad-Cities campuses, as well as out-of-state students.
“We’re hoping this minor, while unique, will help educate others about cannabis use and help normalize it in a way to break down some of that stigma that has been around its use,” Haynes said.
WIU is addressing a growing industry in the state and “as the industry expands, we just see this as an opportunity to offer the background and skills to work in the industry,” she said.
“We foresee this as a program that would be interesting to students who are looking into political science or social justice issues, or maybe they’re looking into getting into the cannabis business side.”