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Undecided? 3 new majors declared

Criminology, health science, and public health offer alternatives
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Criminology, health science, and public health offer alternatives

By Meg Friel, Executive Editor

In addition to eager first years and a trickle of new staff, three new faces are moving into St. Michael’s College this year: the majors of public health, health science, and criminology, along with a change in the studio art major.

These three new majors hit the curriculum this fall and are available for all students to declare, but not for everyone to begin taking introductory classes. Public health and health science are under way in terms of classes, with new courses now associated with the major, including anatomy physiology, a course in ethics and psychology of health and illness. However, criminology courses won’t be available until next fall. Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffery Trumbower who oversaw the new majors being added, and said he considers them another factor in St. Michael’s re branding.

“Public health comes in two versions, a BA and a BS,” Trumbower said. “Students coming in and existing students are able to declare them right now. Criminology is something that was just passed by the faculty and the board of trustees.”

The new majors have a sense of familiarity on campus already. Criminology, for example, is related to the crime and justice minor at St. Michael’s. Students looking to involve themselves in more specific fields of crime, such as law enforcement, often had no choice but to declare a major such as in sociology or psychology. Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair Robert Brenneman helped piece together a plan for the criminology major and propose a course list for the new major, detailing six new courses in addition to those already in effect that fall under the umbrella of criminology.

“After a few years of fielding questions and advising students who were interested in law enforcement, I decided that we needed to try and serve those students better,” Brenneman said.

“Spring of 2019, the administration came to me and said, ‘We would like to explore a criminology major; how much work and resources do you think we would need to do that well?’ I came up with a back-of-the-envelope sketch of what we would need, and then I spent the summer creating a proposal with specific courses.”

In the past, if students at St. Michael’s had an interest in pre-med, they would typically choose a major such as biology, according to Associate Professor of Biology Paul Constantino. Now, students are able to choose the health science or public health major.

“There was a real desire by students, especially prospective students that were coming here, about a health science major,” Constantino said. “Even though we’ve been very successful in the biology students going through, a lot of students who were coming here wanted something that was more tailored towards medical school or vet school. “ He also mentioned that many students expressed interest in a program around public health so they instituted the major.

In addition to these three majors being added, the studio art major also changed to an “art and design major,” incorporating more elements of graphic design, and integrating a relationship with the media studies, journalism, and digital arts department (MJD).

“We’ve long had an art major, and students can still do it but we’ve changed the name of it to art and design, and we now have a new graphic design course that’s required in it,” Trumbower said. “We’ve been searching for a full time person who is going to raise the level and number of courses we have in design, and that person is going to serve both the art department, but also MJD. We want students from each program to visit the other. It’s a new focus on that major, and it’s a new emphasis on, in addition to studying traditional art, design and graphic design in a very formal way.”

Trumbower said he hopes to keep the liberal arts aspects of St. Michael’s prioritized, while still attending to students’ needs and adapting to the demands of an ever-changing career climate.

“One of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education is that you’re able to be adaptable later,” Trumbower said. “We still want that. At the same time, we’re recognizing that offering things that have this more specific connection to a career path will help us attract students.”

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