The Anatomy of a Gallatin Concentration

Follow two NYU Gallatin students’ journeys as they create their own academic paths

What would you choose to study if you had a world of classes, professors, and disciplines at your fingertips? At the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, students find answers to this question while creating their own unique academic concentrations. Gallatin empowers students to delve deeply into anything and everything that sparks their interest. In order to see how the process unfolds, we asked two students to share their journeys.

A headshot image featuring Daryl Ocampo. Next to it reads: Daryl Ocampo, 2018 Cognitive Development. Below that are blocks of text sitting on color backgrounds that read the following: 1.Discovers Gallatin’s freedom My first semester. “I entered Gallatin knowing I didn't want to be confined to a single discipline. Instead, I wanted to shape a whole field of knowledge.” By taking first-year seminars like The Social Construction of Reality, which explores how entertainment changes how we identify ourselves, I was able to think in broader terms about what influences the development of a mind.” 2.Approaches childhood cognition Fall of sophomore year. “As I began to study the philosophy of the mind, I realized I wanted to explore how child and adolescent development shapes our thinking. As a writing mentor in Gallatin’s Great World Texts program, I helped high schoolers analyze literature on-site. I also ran developmental psych studies as a research intern at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.” 3.Conducts research at the College of Arts and Science (CAS) Spring of junior year. “When I wanted to get a taste of scientific research, I enrolled in the Conceptual Development and Social Cognition Lab at CAS. Here, I had a space to practice data collection. I was also able to study design and proposal writing like a real developmental psychologist. As a result, I realized that I wanted to pursue a PhD upon graduating.” 4.Caps his concentration with a thesis Fall of senior year. “My entire journey at Gallatin led up to the moment where I could combine science, philosophy, and sociology in my senior thesis. Its title, ‘The Cognitive Self as a Social Construct,’ addresses subjects like the underlying mechanisms that drive our development and the limits of neurological determinism. This may be an age-old topic, but through the interdisciplinary nature of my concentration, I was able to approach it with fresh eyes and a wealth of resources.”
A headshot image featuring Rachel Stern. Next to it reads: Rachel Stern, 2019 Environmental Studies and Human Rights. Below that are blocks of text sitting on color backgrounds that read the following: 1.Experiences the benefits of Gallatin My first semester “I chose Gallatin for two reasons. First, I love how informed, yet down-to-earth the class discussions are. Second, the school has no constraints on the kinds of courses I can take across NYU. That’s why, even though I knew I wanted to pursue environmental studies, I was able to expand my focus through the wide range of subjects I learned about in my first semester. I studied not only conservation and theories of ‘wilderness’ but also the human rights implications of these ideas.” 2.Joins the Urban Democracy Lab Student Advisory Board My second semester “I got involved beyond the classroom through Gallatin’s Urban Democracy Lab—an initiative devoted to scholarship and discussion. As part of the lab, I attended a conference here in New York City called Democratizing the Green City. It really opened my eyes to the structural inequalities that come with urban environments, like gentrification and housing segregation. I also saw ways in which cities can include more local residents in the decision-making process.” 3.Wins the Horn Family Environmental Studies research grant Summer before junior year “I traveled to Berlin to study urban ecology. I took a class on urban greening at Humboldt University and conducted my own research on the unequal effects of creating more green spaces throughout the city. By linking ideas about social systems, environmental movements, and the real people affected on the ground, I was able to pair environmental studies with a wide range of human rights issues in my concentration.” 4.Becomes a Gallatin Global Fellow in Urban Practice Spring of senior year “For this fellowship, I spent time in Oakland, California, working as the communications manager for an environmental justice organization. I also conducted independent research on how storytelling can be a call to action for environmental justice. Through this experience, I learned that I’d love to work for a community-based organization where I can combine rights, conservation, and the agency of local communities after graduation.”