Excitement abounds for newest academic programs at Gettysburg College

Liberal arts focus of programs includes problem-solving skills, interdisciplinary learning, and cultural understanding

Three new academic programs are up-and-running at Gettysburg College. They include a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, a bachelor of science in mathematical economics, and a bachelor of science in computer science.

Read on to find out why members of the faculty are excited about these programs, and what students can expect from the new courses of study.

Minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies

Studying the Middle East is now possible through the Middle East and Islamic studies (MEIS) minor. Student interest and faculty dedication to the subject led to the creation of the minor, and funding was provided by a $532,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Interdisciplinary programs in general are an important part of our educational mission, and area studies provide an arena for students to address questions of culture, history, language, religion, art, politics, economics, psychology, science, and more regarding a concrete place in the world,” said anthropology Prof. Amy Evrard. “The Middle East and Islamic world are obviously important regions for our students to learn about, thereby building a knowledge base in the United States.”

Faculty members hope that the MEIS minor will provide a flexible structure into which students can fit their particular interests in the Middle East and Islamic world. They also hope that students will be encouraged to travel and study in these regions, ask and answer important questions about these areas of study, as well as come together into a community of shared intellectual and personal interests.

More about how MEIS got its start here.

Bachelor of science in mathematical economics

Economics students who wish to explore the mathematical roots of economics now have a new course of study they can follow within their department, a bachelor of science in mathematical economics.

Students who pursue the bachelor of science in mathematical economics will attend many of the same courses as their peers who pursue the bachelor of arts in economics, while exploring additional courses outside the discipline.

“We expect students to get is a deeper, richer understanding of the mathematical foundations and applications of economics,” said economics Prof. Brendan Cushing-Daniels. “It will also do a lot to prepare them for further study in economics if that is something they wish to pursue.”

Cushing-Daniels also noted that the new major will be useful in getting students to think differently about economic problems and it will enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Bachelor of science in computer science

Computer science studentsThough computer science has existed on campus for 25 years, a bachelor of science will be offered for the first time during the 2012-2013 academic year.

The bachelor of arts in computer science originated in the mathematics department in the 1980’s, and became a department in its own right in 1999.

“The new major was motivated by feedback from alumni and current students who found that potential employers and graduate programs often held a computer science bachelor of science degree in higher esteem than a bachelor of arts degree,” said computer science Prof. Clifton Presser. “Along with this esteem comes an expectation of greater exposure to science and mathematics in the program.”

Members of the computer science faculty hope that the new bachelor of science will help them reach the goals they set for their students, including engaging in satisfying careers after college, gaining a breadth of knowledge as computer scientists, becoming more disciplined self-teachers, and learning to solve problems cooperatively.

“Computer science is a problem-solving discipline,” said Presser. “Problem-solving skills are at the core of a liberal arts education.”

Find a complete list of Gettysburg College courses of study here.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Mon, 27 Aug 2012

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