UW-Whitewater adding three majors for 2012

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Kevin Hoffman
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
— UW-Whitewater will add three majors next year, citing student demand and an evolving job market.

The college of letters and sciences in 2012 will offer environmental science, computer science and Japanese. It's the first time in about five years the college implemented new majors, Associate Dean David Travis said.

"All three of those are majors that we already have all the resources in place," Travis said.

UW-Whitewater already offered minors for each area of study, but Travis said job prospects and student demand helped it decide to grow the programs.

The university for years gradually has put the pieces into place to make the change. It's just been waiting for the right time, Travis said.

"Given where we are with the economy and the state budget developments, majors that (cost) very little extra money is the ideal thing to do," he said.

Environmental science students will gain writing skills and participate in lab and fieldwork.

Emphasis choices include natural science, geoscience and environmental management, according to a news release.

"The timing is right, and all job growth indicators point to environmental science as a top field in the 21st century," Travis said. "Environmental consulting is a huge area. Businesses are realizing the importance of understanding the environment and managing natural resources as a means to survive and thrive."

Computer science will "complement a robust technology presence on campus," according to the news release. The major is expected to attract students pursuing careers in software engineering and programming.

The Japanese program will focus on language proficiency while including East Asian history and culture, according to the news release. The major requires part of the students' studies to be done in Japan.

UW-Whitewater already has a partnership with UW-Oshkosh for Japanese studies. The two share resources and courses through distance learning, which includes classes taught through video conferencing.

UW-Whitewater plans to offer courses in Japanese media, while UW-Oshkosh will have advanced writing and religion, according to the news release.

"Students will have enough breadth and background that they can walk into an international environment and not rely on translation," said sociology professor Larry Neuman.

UW-Whitewater will offer 51 majors next year, about half of which are in the college of letters and sciences.

Travis said the new majors are overdue.

"It's still too early to tell how this will unfold," Travis said. "But we already got indications that we could have big numbers, especially in environmental science."

Last updated: 7:07 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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