Over the past few years, we have introduced a number of innovative academic programs that are quite forward-looking and match new professional and research areas. Some seem, now, particularly relevant to our pandemic existence.
New programs enable us to pursue and maintain a position of intellectual leadership, provide for the public good, and remain at cutting edges of the humanities, sciences, and the arts. They also allow us to expand opportunities for professional education for traditional and non-traditional student audiences.
Below are just a few examples of academic innovation at The Beach.
The new programs not only match our core values, but also meet needs in our community. Some of these programs include the BS in Environmental Engineering, the MA in International Affairs, and the MS in Sustainability. We also now offer an interdisciplinary experience between our College of Natural Science and Math and College of Liberal Arts: the BA/BS in Environmental Science and Policy.
At times, particular disciplines or accreditation standards may change, leading to a change in a degree. An example of this is the MA in Human Experience Design Interactions (HXDI), which opened last fall. The program brings a collaborative interdisciplinary and technology-based approach to design. Similarly, the growth of knowledge and the increased scope of practice has led to a redesign of the Athletic Training curriculum, and an elevation of it to a master’s degree.
We also look at new program proposals from the standpoint of workforce demand: We consider similar programs in our geographical area, analyze the labor market (for jobs for future graduates), and we perform a needs analysis to determine how many students might be interested.
Not surprisingly our new Cyber Security certificate program has seen full enrollment. Data Analytics and Digital Marketing are other new programs that match the times. In the College of Business, the MS in Marketing Analytics reflects the high STEM content in the program.
We have new options for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and the online MBA (OMBA). A very new program is a minor in Translation Studies to meet a huge demand from numerous global industries for professionals who can translate languages with accuracy and for comprehension and nuance. The new online RN-to-BSN degree — a 2-year, upper-division program designed for students who have already received an associate degree in Nursing — meets needs in an incredibly high demand area.
Universities have a mission to catalogue, interpret, and teach the “universe” of knowledge from the beginning of recorded time. And we also have the mission to be ahead of the curve for emerging areas of study, for example, Biomedical Engineering. So, while many areas of study provide a historical foundation upon which to appreciate human origins and achievements, many others reflect the cutting edge of research and professional opportunities for our students.
Keeping up and leading the way presents many challenges in a fast-changing global landscape of work and innovation. It is, however the way we ensure relevance and depth for our graduates. Our graduates have strong skills sets and they understand the realities of our interconnected and multicultural world. I know they are prepared to meet the great challenges ahead and fashion their best futures.
Jane Close Conoley is president of Cal State Long Beach.