New Majors, Minors Added to College of Arts and Sciences

Monday, September 12, 2011

The range of educational opportunities and career pathways for undergraduate students has expanded this fall, with the addition of three new majors and four new minors in the College of Arts and Sciences. Now boasting 20 departments, 34 majors and 42 minors, the College of Arts and Sciences provides educational opportunities for students of the humanities, natural sciences, mathematics and social sciences. At the graduate level, two programs expand online offerings.

The former Department of Fine and Performing Arts, which housed art history, the visual arts, art education, music, and theater and film studies, has split into two individual departments. The revamped Department of Art, and the newly created Department of Music, Theatre and Film, afford students new opportunities and new courses, as the separated disciplines tailor each major more specifically to the students’ needs.

Dennis McNally, S.J., chair and professor of art, says the division will maintain the integrity of the former department, while allowing students to focus on their personal area of study. 
“The student experience has always been distinctive in that individual attention has been given to each student’s own creative expression,” says McNally. “Now the progress of art majors and minors will be more focused throughout their four years.”

For majors and minors in music, theatre and film, the result is the same. “These new degree programs allow students to pursue a more focused study in music, theatre or film,” says Suzanne Sorkin, Ph.D., associate professor of music and chair of the new department.

For instance, “the music major offers students a comprehensive curriculum that deepens musical understanding and awareness, fosters creative expression, and encourages critical analysis and inquiry. It combines coursework in music theory, composition, history and performance,” she says.

Also new on the humanities front is a major in communication studies, an expansion of the program available as a minor since the fall of 2010. Designed to enhance communication skills across multiple platforms – print, web and visual – the major will prepare graduates for jobs in a technology-driven industry.

“Most communication studies programs provide learning experiences that lead to careers in public relations, advertising, marketing communications, journalism and film,” says Owen Gilman, Ph.D., professor of English and director of the program. He adds that “a distinguishing feature of our program is COM 201, Ethics in Communications, which has been built to reflect a concern for using social media and all appropriate forms of persuasion, visual and verbal, in order to serve social justice goals.”

In the sciences, the Department of Psychology has added a minor in behavioral neuroscience, which uses biological principles to investigate normal and abnormal behavior. Philip Schatz, Ph.D., professor of psychology and first director of this new program, says “the behavioral neuroscience minor will be open to any student but likely most ‘attractive’ to students majoring in psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, interdisciplinary health services, education, philosophy and/or computer sciences.”

He adds that “behavioral neurosciences is a vast and growing field, and there are major and minor programs at about one-half to one-third of the Jesuit and other ‘comparable’ schools to SJU. Having a behavioral neurosciences program should make SJU an attractive option for students interested in this field.”

For graduate students, the College of Arts and Sciences now offers an online master of science in education leadership and an online certificate in health care ethics.

Educators who seek to be leaders in their field will benefit from the flexibility of the online M.S. in educational leadership. Once complete, students will be eligible to obtain Pa. certification as a principal for K-12 and/or as a supervisor of curriculum and instruction.

The online certificate in health care ethics explores the theological dimension of ethical discourse and is designed to prepare individuals for the complex and growing field of biomedical ethics.

“One of the required courses explores various relationships between religion and medicine and the role that theological reflection can play in bioethics,” says Mark Aita, S.J., M.D., director of the M.A. in health care ethics.

The advent of each of these courses of study has brought in students who would have likely sought similar programs elsewhere. Saint Joseph’s University continues to draw a wide range of undergraduates to its student body, and this year has added additional layers to its appeal.

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