MACOMB — Western Illinois University appears to be going for pot.
The Macomb-based institution of higher learning has added a second cannabis-related minor to its educational menu, effective this fall semester.
Cannabis and Culture is to be offered through the WIU College of Arts and Sciences. It complements Cannabis Biology and Production, a minor that also is to launch this autumn.
That minor, announced earlier this month, focuses on pot production and is offered through the WIU School of Agriculture. Cannabis and Culture is to draw from anthropology, history, philosophy, religious studies and political science, among other academic disciplines.
“As academics in the humanities and social sciences, we recognized a gap in course offerings and education, more broadly, on the cultural uses of cannabis throughout history and globally,” Sarah Haynes, a WIU professor of religious studies and anthropology, stated in an email Friday.
“This program offers students interested in a career in the cannabis industry a wealth of knowledge about cannabis beyond the business and cultivation side of things.”
Whatever pot-related curricula exist at universities in other states usually focus on technical aspects, according to Haynes. She and Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, an anthropology professor, co-created the new minor.
Cannabis and Culture is to require 18 to 19 credit hours. An online version is being reviewed. During its meeting last week, the WIU Faculty Senate approved the new minor.
Both minors were created in the wake of legalization of recreational pot in Illinois, effective last month. After conducting internet research and informally gauging WIU students’ interest, Haynes and McIlvaine-Newsad began to develop the Cannabis and Culture minor last fall.
Among courses to be offered in it are Religion and Drugs, Contemporary Moral Problems, History of Drugs and Introduction to Public Policy.
Interest in the new minor is difficult to quantify, according to Haynes. Colleagues and administrators have been supportive, apparently.
“Time will tell whether that translates to students enrolling,” Haynes stated. “Though we remain hopeful, as students have started to reach out.”
The cannabis-related academic programs are the only ones being offered at the college and university level in Illinois, according to Haynes.
Something unique probably couldn’t hurt WIU. It has been beset by declining enrollment, among other woes, in recent years.
“We’re very excited about leading the pack and forging new ground in this ever-growing field,” Haynes stated.
Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.