‘Nova to expand course offerings

Thomas Celona

The University will offer new degree programs on both the undergraduate and graduate levels beginning in the fall.

“We’re always looking for ideas that fit our [academic] strategy,” said Dr. John Johannes, vice president for Academic Affairs, in regard to the new academic offerings.

This past fall the University announced the establishment of the Department of Geography and the Environment. In spring of 2006 a committee began to explore options for academic expansion based on the success of the current concentration in environmental studies and the desire for degree programs in the field.

The goal of the department will be to explore “the complex interactions between humans and the environment” through a cross-disciplinary perspective,.

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the department will offer courses taught by professors from various disciplines and will offer appointments in multiple departments to many faculty members.

“It’s that nexus between the sciences and the social sciences that I’m most excited about,” said Dr. John Olson, the director of the concentration in environmental studies and the chairperson of the committee that developed the new majors.

Programs leading to a Bachelor of Arts in geography and the concentration in environmental studies, previously run by the political science and biology departments, respectively, will now be overseen by the Department for Geography and the Environment. Additionally, the department will begin to award a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and a Bachelor of Science in environmental science.

The department is currently searching for a chairperson. It is interviewing applicants from outside the University in an attempt to find “someone to bridge geography and environmental studies,” Olson said.

Faculty members are excited about the opportunities this new department will offer students.

“I think a lot of people will opt for this, especially incoming students,” Olson said.

Additionally, there has been talk of creating an undergraduate major in international studies. While there are no definite plans at this time, Johannes said that it is currently in development.

In addition to these new programs, the University is focused on expanding its academic offerings in other areas.

Starting next year, the University will offer a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology. Psychology joins 16 other disciplines which offer five-year programs.

The University is also currently developing a program leading to a masters of science in church management. The degree would be offered by the Center for the Study of Church Management, one of the five Centers of Excellence in the School of Business. The final decision regarding this program will be made in the coming weeks, Johannes said.

The University is also in the process of exploring new courses for its adult Part-Time Studies program.

“We’re trying to grow the evening Part-Time Studies program – very selectively, but growing them,” Johannes said.

Nationwide, there has been an increase in the number of college students who do not fall within the traditional age bracket, and the University is working to accommodate the academic needs of these non-traditional students. The Part-Time Studies program currently awards bachelor degrees in 11 disciplines, along with teacher certification for secondary education and certificates in areas of business and leadership.

Despite the growth of academic programs, Johannes said that the number of students at Villanova will remain constant.

“We’re interested in growth in quality, not in quantity,” Johannes said.