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New majors to be offered starting in Fall 2011

Four new majors will be offered to Elon University students starting in the fall. Early childhood education is an addition to the School of Education’s programs; information science replaces the current computer information systems major in the Department of Computing Sciences; and public health studies, and arts administration, are both interdisciplinary majors within Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Information Science

Information science evolved from workplace trends where there is no longer as strong a need for “building” computer systems so much as there is with understanding the “endless sources of data … that need to be mined for business intelligence.”

The rationale for such a major spans all disciplines, professors said. Scientists deal with large databases of complex information, the health industry is seeing a rapid rise in the volume of information stored electronically, and those in marketing must analyze vast sums of customer purchasing information, to cite just a few examples.

“We hear all the time about ‘information overload,’ and this major looks at a lot of the big issues surrounding that,” said assistant professor Duke Hutchings who, along with associate professor Lynn Heinrichs, helped guide the information sciences proposal through the Curriculum Committee.

Hutchings cited Google as a top example of where career possibilities exist in mining data. The search engine giant pinpointed flu outbreaks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on the location of search queries submitted by web users.

“A lot of companies are starting to address these problems,” Heinrichs said. “From that perspective, there seems to be a critical mass that makes this the right time to move in the direction of a new major.”

For more information on the new program, visit the Department of Computing Sciences website.

Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education is a new offering for students wishing to work with young children. Graduates of the program will be eligible to receive birth-through-kindergarten licensure from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Requirements for the major include a human services course and a psychology course, as well as a course on research methods, and assessment and evidence-based courses designed for future teachers to better test whether their methods are effective and how to interpret results.

Graduates of the program will be qualified to work and teach in daycares, kindergarten classrooms, preschools and “More-at-Four” classrooms for at-risk students.

Associate professor Mary Knight-McKenna joined with several colleagues on the Early Childhood Education Design Team to craft the major. Knight-McKenna said the committee wanted the program to focus on best practices for engaging children in creative, dynamic play that fosters cognitive and language development, and on how educators should consider families and the environments in which their students live.

That doesn’t happen in many other education schools and makes Elon’s program “cutting edge.”

Our students need to learn about the culture of the families of children to be effective educators,” Knight-McKenna said. “If students know they want to work with young children and their families, this would be a good major or minor for them.”

It’s also an ideal minor for students who plan to start families of their own and would like a broader understanding of effective practices in early childhood education, she said, adding that, “The more people know about early childhood, the more humane our society becomes.”

For more information on the new major, contact Knight-McKenna at mmckenna2@elon.edu or (336) 278-5858 or visit the Department of Education’s website.

Public Health Studies

Students in public health studies will examine health-related issues from an interdisciplinary, population perspective.

Majoring in public health studies gives graduates a variety of career options, including work for organizations addressing public health issues both domestically and abroad, or continuing with graduate studies in public health or related fields.

Students will take a core set of seven courses, including Global Health and the field-based experience Public Health Practicum. They will also select a focal area – socio -cultural context of health and illness, or biological bases of health and illness.

We’re facing many complex challenges to the public’s health in the 21st century, and many students want to be involved in finding solutions,” said assistant professor Kristen Sullivan, the coordinator of the new program. “The outlook for jobs in public health is quite strong. It’s a fast growing area.”

For more information on the new major, contact Kristen Sullivan at ksullivan14@elon.edu or (336) 278-6485.

Arts Administration

With nearly 400 students studying various fine arts offered by Elon, a new arts administration major combines business and arts classes to prepare for careers in management and marketing of the arts through museum, theater, and gallery settings.

The program is shaped by strong interdisciplinary connections and requires the combination of two internship experiences. Curriculum will ultimately lead to a capstone experience dedicated to the management of a specific area or organization. Students completing the major would be qualified for a graduate program in Arts Administration, or for unique career opportunities that combine interests in both the arts and business arenas.

The internship experiences are the combination of a on-campus experience working with one of many artistic programs already in place, and a second internship with an off campus organization working in the professional field.

The arts administration major is a very attractive option for students to select as a double-major to complement another disciplinary field such as art & art history, music, performing arts, or anthropology,” said Angela Lewellyn Jones, associate dean of Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences.

For more information, contact Jones at ajones5@elon.edu or (336) 278-6485.


Eric Townsend,
4/15/2011 2:26 PM