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Since the former psychology and cognitive and linguistic sciences departments merged into the new Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences in July, the transition process has not significantly affected students.

Kathryn Spoehr, associate chair of CLiPS, said the merger has not caused dramatic changes for students so far, since neither course arrangements nor concentration guidelines have changed significantly. Faculty members have continued to work to ensure a smooth transition process, she added.

"What has worked for the students in the past is continuing to work for them now," Spoehr said. Yet in the long run, students will benefit from an increased range of course and research topics brought about by the merger, she added.  

So far the merger is helping students find classes that are less familiar to them, but appeal to their academic interest, said Associate Professor David Sobel, a concentration adviser for cognitive science. In the past, a student interested in psychology might neglect to explore courses in the cognitive and linguistics sciences department, some of which might be of potential interest, he said. Now that all these classes are listed under one department, he said he expects the course hunting process to be "more streamlined" for undergraduate students, Sobel added.

Sobel said one way the merger benefits concentrators is that they now have more options for their thesis advisers. For example, there were a number of psychologists in the cognitive science department who were eligible to direct psychology thesis projects, though many students were not aware of the option because they were in a separate department before the merger. The merger has made this process "much more transparent," Sobel said.

Teaching assistant positions are now open to graduate students of all programs in the new department, so it is now easier for graduate students to be teaching assistants for courses that are not strictly in their areas of expertise, Spoehr said.  

The new department — which offers concentrations in psychology, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience and linguistics — is in the process of examining all four sets of concentration requirements and is likely to expand the choices of courses that count towards the requirements, Spoehr said.

The department is also trying to reduce the overlap in subject matter that were covered by courses offered by the previously separate departments, said Professor Sheila Blumstein, a concentration adviser for cognitive neuroscience.

An important part of the merger is to enhance the studies of mind, brain, behavior and language at Brown through building stronger faculty, Blumstein said.  

Since 2007 — when the plan for the merger and joint search for new faculty members by both departments began — the University has brought and will continue to bring faculty members to the department, Spoehr said. The faculty additions will boost the department considerably. As a result the department will be able to offer a number of new courses and research projects, she added.


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