06/20/14 — University of Mount Olive offers new bachelor's degree program

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University of Mount Olive offers new bachelor's degree program

By From staff reports
Published in News on June 20, 2014 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The University of Mount Olive will launch a new bachelor's degree program this fall that university officials say will offer students the opportunity to strengthen their communication and critical-thinking skills and gain an insightful world view.

The 126-semester-hour liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree will be offered through the School of Arts and Sciences.

"The liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree is not for the person who does not know what he or she wants to do," said Dr. David Hines, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "Rather it is rather for the person that knows what he or she wants to do and cannot find a traditional program to fit that need."

The degree breaks down the barriers between humanities and social sciences, providing students a broad educational foundation that will be required in 21st century careers, Hines said.

"One of the real challenges in higher education is preparing students for jobs that do not currently exist," he said. "Technology is exploding. A narrowly focused curriculum will not equip students with the skills to adapt to a changing work environment.

"Regardless of the specifics of future careers, there will be no substitutes for the ability to think creatively and critically, the skill to work collaboratively, and the knack for effective communication".

The degree core will foster these skills and help students to examine the insights from the social and physical sciences, history, literature, and religion, he said.

"A strength and attraction of the liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree major, is the many options it provides for students to organize a study program that is both personally interesting and professionally relevant," said Dr. Robert Fisher, assistant professor of criminal justice and a proponent for the new program.

"Moreover, such a major sharpens awareness of art, history, philosophy, and technology and the impact of these disciplines on contemporary issues. In doing so, the liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree increases students' abilities to think and to communicate clearly."

Fisher said that many students can also use the degree to improve their current employment standing.

"In addition to receiving significant and positive life changes as a result of a liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree, these graduates report pay raises and promotions as tangible benefits to receiving their degree," he said.

The university has many areas in which courses are offered to prospective liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies students that form the basis for the development of a student's ability to examine issues in a critical manner.

The core courses for the degree ensure a student will develop their analytical and evaluative abilities in several areas, he said.

A few examples are the requirement to take courses in philosophy, art, biology, religion, and sociology, psychology, or criminal justice.

"Small classes with dedicated faculty mean that all students will have the opportunity to pursue individual interests while learning the concepts and skills employers expect," Fisher said.

Fisher explained how the UMO program differs from other liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies degree programs at similar institutions.

"In designing this degree program, the committee examined numerous programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States," he said. "One thing that seemed to be prevalent was that most of these programs limited students in their pursuit of specific areas of concentrated study. While there was great diversity in courses required, many programs left little ability for individual design in the education process.

"We decided that by working in coordination with a student to develop their area of interest, a concentration could be created that provided the student with all of the advantages of a liberal studies/interdisciplinary studies emphasis, and still allow them a degree of specialization in an area of interest."