Published: Nov. 9, 2016

Shuttle launch

Only a few months into its inaugural semester, the University of Colorado Boulder’s new space minor is already taking off. Launched this fall to capitalize on the university’s reputation as a top public university in space research, the minor’s trajectory is steeper and faster than predicted, even by its staunchest supporters.

A component of CU Boulder’s Grand Challenge: Our Space. Our Future., the space minor allows undergraduate students, regardless of major, to obtain a minor that complements their major degree with a set of five space-related courses.

The first hint of momentum came at the space minor kickoff event at the Fiske Planetarium in September, which was standing room only. Now, nearly 140 students have registered for the minor, which provides students in both technical and non-technical majors with opportunities to understand the language, concepts and issues associated with the science and technology of Earth and space.

“The space minor committee’s original goal was to have a cohort of 100 space minors during the first year, so we’re thrilled with the enrollment so far,” says Chris Koehler, associate faculty director of the space minor. We are also excited that more than 35 majors are represented from across the Boulder campus.”

The entry point to the minor is the required Pathway to Space course, which provides a broad overview of all aspects of space science, engineering, technology and how space is influenced by the arts and humanities. Pathway to Space will offer a distinctive classroom environment, including a flipped lecture format and other unique student engagement methods to create an innovative and inclusive learning environment.

Current topics of the minor include space science and exploration, human spaceflight and life sciences, aeronautics and near space, launch and spacecraft systems, climate and environment, space business, policy and politics, space arts, media and history. Students are required to take four elective classes on space-related topics of their choosing.

Daniel Rogers, a second-semester freshman English major, has been energized by the new perspectives he’s gained through space minor course offerings. “I’m taking my second astronomy course this semester and plan to take Human Spaceflight next, to learn more about the human aspects.” He’s also applying his knowledge of space to his personal areas of interest. “I recently used a concept about stars to add insight to an essay about the deconstruction of structuralism for a class on literary theory. I don’t have a specific career in mind, but I know whatever I do will be inspired by astronomy in some creative way.”

Students will have even more options in 2017-18, with diverse new offerings in development including astrophysics through the lens of cinema & the arts, studio: space, writing about space, team communication and spaceflight, music and space, and environment and effects.

The minor consists of 15 credit hours, or five courses. Learn more and enroll here