Focused on the future: Innovative college programs in N.J. pave way for the real world – Jersey’s Best

Posted: September 24, 2020 at 4:57 am

New Jersey students browsing a course catalog will find many programs of study thatwerentthere when their parents went to college.

Some programs seem to be exactly appropriate for the time we are in.

Theres cyberpsychology at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), environmental studies at Rutgers, financial technology at Seton Hall and cannabis studies at Stockton University.

As perhaps the largest mass demonstrations in American history have drawn attention to prejudice against minorities, including police brutality and inequity in the impact and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) offers a minor in social justice.

Its so interesting that it fits the moment, but it is not a new idea for us, said Dr. PiperKendrixWilliams, a professor in the English and African American Studies departments at TCNJ.

The idea for the minor is three or four years old, and we worked on it for about two years, she said.

New Jersey tends to have segregated areas white suburbs and minorities in the cities, she said. Even in college, students experience can be really segregated.

Our students need an education in social justice, she said. Every student in the college needs some understanding of race, gender and inclusion. I can see a lot of students wanting this.

Williams said the program is a natural outgrowth of TCNJs Bonner Scholars program in which participants are required to do 300 hours of community service in the Greater Trenton area.

The minor requires five courses: Introduction to Social Justice, Introduction to Womens and Gender Studies, Introduction to the Sociology of Race and two junior-level electives.

Activism cant come until youre educated, until you know what youre fighting for, Williams said. Higher education has to step up to what is relevant in the world.

Dr. JulieAnciswill be the director of NJITs new program in cyberpsychology, offering a Bachelor of Science degree. It is the first such major in New Jersey and NJITs first foray into the behavioral sciences.

Im very excited about this program because its truly innovative, saidAncis, who has been a professor of psychology and associate vice president of diversity at Georgia Tech.

It is designed for students with an interest in psychology and human behavior, she said, noting that projections call for at least an 11% job growth in the field in the next 10 years.

The program will use existing research and literature to prepare students to solve real-world problems and apply their skills to a variety of domains,Ancissaid.

Potential career fields will include cyber security, games We want games to be a force for good, she said telepsychology, virtual reality, app development, digital health and any positions related to online engagement.

We will be exploring all aspects of technologically interconnected human behavior through the lens of psychology,Ancissaid. We will look at ways to enrich online experiences and decrease anxiety, explore the psychology of cyber threats both for perpetrators and victims factors that influence privacy precautions such as perception of risks, cyberbullying, ethics and many other areas.

The ways in which we learn, socialize and communicate have been transformed, she added. Were in a totally new worldapproximately 60% of the worlds population is using the internet.

Anciswill teach Foundations of Cyberpsychology, which has a waiting list for registration.

I expect this really to grow, she said.

NJIT also is offering a new undergraduate major in forensic science, and certificates in big data, data mining, and cell and gene therapy.

Cannabis has been on college campuses for decades, but with medical marijuana now legal in 33 states and recreational marijuana legal in 11, a new industry has spawned.

The university was interested in having a scientist involved because there might be perceptions that illegal activity was involved, said Dr. EkaterinaSedia, a plant biologist and coordinator of the cannabis studies minor at Stockton University. The program is very much based in science.

OK, we have a new industry, its coming, its here and theyre going to be hiring. We want to get those jobs.

About 50 students are enrolled in the program, which started a year ago.

I anticipated the demand,Sediasaid. I was a little surprised how quickly it became known. We have students from a variety of majors, including business, environment and sustainability, and communications.

The program also looks at hemp and CBD products, and includes such aspects as banking, cybersecurityand regulatory compliance. It studies the non-psychoactive aspects of cannabis, such as use in cosmetics, too.

Its not necessary that youd be growing it yourself, but you may be involved with a business that grows it,Sediasaid. I have a student who says she wants to be the Johnson & Johnson of cannabis.

Elven Riley of Seton Halls Stillman School of Business saidthe financial technology major FinTech for short is aimed at preparing students for jobs where finance and the digital world intersect.

In the finance department we see that banking and brokerages and, to some extent, insurance are reducing their traditional workforces and moving to more technology savvy employees, he said. There are just thousands of jobs out there. New York and London are hotbeds.

The major is designed for business students to become literate in the language of technology.

We think it will put our students at the head of the queue to get those jobs, said Riley, who had a 30-year career in investment banking. Were getting attention from the industry that they want these students.

Seton Hall now has students who pursue dual majors in finance and information technology. Forty to 50 students are expected to switch to the FinTech major.

This is a mash-up of the two concentrations, Riley said. Looking around higher education, thereare not a lot of these designed programs.Theresnot a lot of faculty in higher education that has experience in this space.

Theres big interest, lots of jobs, very exciting, but also very challenging, he said.

The possible careers are in big data, algorithmictradingand edge computing.

Theres no part of the financial industry that doesnt involve technology, Riley said. You need people who are trained and literate inboth of these.

We do think incoming students will seek this out. We think this will attract high-quality students to our program. We would be remiss not to go in this direction.

Rutgers University-New Brunswicks School of Arts and Sciences has launched a new major in environmental studies that brings together 17 science and humanities programs.

This appeals to up-and-coming generations who have grown up with the environment being at the forefront of their world, said Dr. Paul OKeefe, whose specialty is geography.

Different in focus from environmentalscience,the environmental studies major will prepare liberal arts students to be professionals on environmental issues, OKeefe said.

We currently have 26 students enrolled in the environmental studies minor and expect several to transition to the major along with new entrants to the program, he said.

Students in all majors must take Environmental Techniques courses, which give them skills applicable to many workplaces. There also is an optional internship component for students.

Rutgers also offers a minor in agroecology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences in New Brunswick. It appeals to a small number of students from a wide variety of majors.

I have had landscape architects and nutrition majors who are interested in how we grow food and food systems, said Dr. Mark Robson, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Plant Biology. I have had kids from the business school who want to know about the costs of growing food. I have had kids in our traditional ag(riculture)and food systems major that used to be ag(riculture) science, and then I have students who are just interested in ecology in general and this caught their eye.

So, given its general nature and the fact that we all eat, it seems to interest a lot of students, he said.

Students have gone on to work for state environmental agencies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and some have gone into farming as well, Robson said.

Other new programs at Rutgers include majors in cinema studies, Japanese and Korean, and minors in African languages, archaeology, Holocaust studies, and medical ethics and health policy.

Kean University has started a new major in exercise science in its School of Health and Human Performance. It can lead to careers in physical and occupational therapy, chiropractic, cardiac rehabilitation, and sports medicine, and lead to work in the fitness industry.

Some of our students become entrepreneurs and start their own fitness businesses, said Dr. Adam Eckart, program coordinator, who has worked as a full-time trainer and whose bachelors and masters degrees are from Kean.

It can be a feeder for graduate health programs, including medical school, he said.

Eckart said there are 215 exercise science majors, and the program is expected to grow by 40 to 50 students a year.

Health care organizations will be looking in the future to refer patients to exercise professionals, he said. Students need an insight into where the field is headed.

He said most of health care spending results from chronic conditions that can be avoided with intervention through diet and exercise, pointing to the motto of the American College of Sports Medicine: Exercise is medicine.

Seton Hall also has launched a dual major in religion and law, which will allow students to graduate in six years with a bachelors degree in religion and a juris doctor in law.

Were very excited about it, said Dr. Brian Sheppard of Seton Hall Law School in Newark, who said the religion major requires a rigorous study of texts, which overlaps with law school rigor. He said it appeals to students who are interested in working in the nonprofit sector.

We like the idea of building this bridge, Sheppard said. We get some incredible students from Seton Hall undergraduate. This just strengthens that.

It is one ofseveralthree-plus-three programs offered by Seton Hall, leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees in six years.

You use your first year of studies in law school as your fourth year of college, Sheppard said. It really offers a premium to students who want both degrees. It allows you graduate with less debt. Debt can be a real obstacle to careers in social justice.

And Seton Halls School of Diplomacy and International Relations is offering non-majors a certificate in global affairs.

Acting Dean Courtney Smith said many diplomacy majors minor in languages and other disciplines in Seton Halls other schools.

This is an opportunity for us to offer a reciprocal service, he said, to better serve students already here.

The certificate will require four classes that will give students a better grasp of global affairs, Smith said, since many of the issues facing society in the future require an international approach, including climate change.

He said students can take a broad or narrow approach in choosing their classes. It requires only 12 credits, rather than the 18 required for a minor.

Kean also has started a new dual admission program Pathway to Kean that offers students whodontinitially meet university admissions standards a path toward earning a bachelors degree.

Qualified students are given conditional acceptance to the universityas long asthey complete their associate degree at one of Keans partner county colleges. The university will provide counseling and support services while the students are attending county colleges.

The program begins this fall in partnership with Essex County College, Middlesex County College, the County College of Morris, Ocean County College, Union County College and Warren County Community College. It is expected to include more New Jersey county colleges over the next two years.

Students in the program will have their applications sent to their respective county colleges. Kean will work with each county college admissions office to ease their enrollment into the program.

Kean will provide support services on the county college campuses and remotely for students in the program.

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Focused on the future: Innovative college programs in N.J. pave way for the real world - Jersey's Best

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