Newest Majors: Biotech, Environmental Studies
Hands-on learning, laboratory research, internships and participation in community problem-solving are among the key features of two new academic programs that will launch at Alma College this fall.
Alma faculty have approved Biotechnology and Environmental Studies as the College’s newest majors. A third new major in Health Care Administration is expected to gain approval in the fall.
The new majors are part of an overall Integrated Health initiative designed to prepare students for work in rapidly changing career fields. Students who major in the programs will be asked to demonstrate technical expertise as well as the ability to recognize and respond to the social, ethical and civic imperatives that accompany work in the health professions, according to Alma College Provost Michael Selmon.
Hands-on research is a key component of the Biotechnology and Environmental Studies programs.
“These new programs will enhance opportunities for students to find their passion in increasingly important health fields,” says Selmon. “Alma College has a history of successfully preparing graduates in the broad areas of health, science, environmental studies and business. These new programs build on the strengths of our faculty and their on-going research.”
While distinctive in themselves, the new majors also relate overall to integrated health within a liberal arts foundation, says Selmon. The new majors will interact with and enhance Alma’s existing programs in the sciences, health and business administration as well as the College’s pre-professional programs in medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
“A distinguishing feature of these programs is the immediate and on-going involvement of students in hands-on learning opportunities,” says Karen Ball, associate professor of exercise and health science. “From the moment they step on campus, students will have real-world laboratory, research and internship opportunities, both on- and off-campus.”
The Biotechnology major will include core coursework in chemistry, biology, physics and computation with electives in molecular genetics, medicinal chemistry, immunology, pharmacology, health policy, bioethics and other courses.
“Students will gain hands-on skills for graduate studies in biomedical science as well as for work in research, health, pharmaceutical, environmental science and agricultural biotechnology settings,” says Ball.
Program distinctions include summer research, extensive experiences with modern techniques and lab instrumentation, connections with the biotechnology industry, and a “Journal Club” that engages students in critical analysis.
Students will have opportunities to do laboratory research early in their programs.
The Environmental Studies major, previously offered as a minor at Alma, will offer tracks for students to concentrate in one of three areas: Environmental Health, Environmental Policy and Environmental Science. Each track will engage students in the study of the scientific, political, economic, communication and sociological perspectives and methods of their concentration.
Internships, independent studies, summer programming and a senior capstone project, with a strong emphasis on community problem-solving, are key components of the program, according to Murray Borrello, faculty coordinator of environmental studies.
“The program will take advantage of established connections with community health needs, such as the ongoing work of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force and research concerning childhood obesity in Gratiot County,” says Borrello. “Beyond the classroom, our students will work with experts in the fields of environmental health, policy and science.”
The proposed Health Care Administration major is being designed to meet the needs that are associated with a rapidly changing health care delivery system. This includes preparing students for positions in hospitals, nursing homes and group physician practices. Coursework will include an analysis of health care reform and fundamentals of the U.S. health care system.
Posted: Mon, May 3rd, 2010 at 11:42AM