The University of Rhode Island has created new majors in recent years in an effort to increase academic opportunities across their eight degree-granting colleges.
Programs like Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ), International Studies and Diplomacy (ISD) and Data Science have recently been added to URI’s curriculum, giving students more opportunities to expand their interests.
Professor Richard McIntyre, the coordinator for the economics and ISD department, was part of the program’s development at URI.
“President Dooley thought something like this would be a good idea,” McIntyre said. “He charged people from [the economics] department, political science and languages to come up with a program in international diplomacy and relations.”
The ISD program currently has approximately 15 students in the major. It was just created this academic year, and looks to take in its first full class of 25 students in the fall.
“We think this particular program is unique, at least in the Northeast: combining language studies with a curriculum international studies in this kind of dual-degree model,” McIntyre said.
ISD majors are required to study abroad for at least a semester, one facet of the program that sets it apart from many other URI majors. Students are encouraged to consider studying abroad for a full year, as it allows them to truly hone their language skills.
“The idea is you will be able to hit certain language benchmarks when you come back from your study abroad program,” McIntyre said. “So there are tests built-in, competence programs, before you go away and then after you come back.”
URI has partner universities all over the world for students to study at, as universities in France and China have paired with URI to send ISD students abroad. URI is currently working with Universities in Germany, Mexico and Italy to create additional partners. Japanese and Arabic are also set to be added soon, with partner Universities abroad as well.
Students with this major will be prepared for careers in diplomacy, foreign policy and international politics.
Other new majors have also garnered interest from students. The criminology and criminal justice program’s recent creation has become popular amongst students after its creation in the fall of 2017.
“We had a previous program under sociology that focused on criminology and criminal justice and it was time to sort of merge it into something different,” Dr. Jill Doerner, director of the CCJ program said. “To be more manageable, we started making it interdisciplinary. It took about three or four years to develop all together.”
CCJ combines six participating departments: sociology and anthropology, political science, psychology, gender and women’s studies, economics and chemistry.
“We’re one of a few interdisciplinary programs on campus,” Doerner said. “Because we’re interdisciplinary, we rely on other people to help us. For us, the reason we made it interdisciplinary is because the field itself is very interdisciplinary. You have people working in a variety of capacities in the criminal justice system.”
The program has grown significantly over the mere two years since its creation.
“It’s already outpaced what we were expecting in terms of growth,” Doerner said. “We already have had two full classes of freshmen who have come into the major, and we have a pretty full junior class this year, and roughly 20 seniors graduating this year. We roughly have about 100+ students per class. It’s definitely growing and I expect that when we have four full years we’ll have about 500 majors probably. It just shows people have a lot of interest in the field itself.”
Many students with a CCJ degree will go onto law school, while others will join a police force orl become social workers. The program allows students to decide what they want to focus on and develop their degree around it.
The Office of Enrollment Services plays a large part in getting these new majors out to students. Once the new majors are developed and approved, Enrollment Services takes over.
“We’re the office that will implement it,” Dr. Carnell Jones, director of Enrollment Services said. “We don’t get a say in the creation or development, but we’ll put it in the system and post it, and make sure it jives. Enrollment Services makes everything happen.”
The work of Enrollment Services is what allows students to register for classes in these new programs and declare their majors within them. Jones and his team are responsible for the technical aspect of the systems that give access to new majors.
“You have to build [the major],” Jones said. “It takes no more than a week [to build]. It has to be coded in the degree audit system so your advisor can say you checked off this when you were a student. You can see what courses are going towards your degree. You have to build it so it all calculates out.”
A potential major to be added to URI’s curriculum is a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology, which will be voted on at the February Faculty Senate meeting.