Majors combine, form department

Story by Kyle Davis

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As a result of the Academic Program Review, which began about a year ago, some majors and programs are merging and finding new homes for the 2010-2011 school year.

The history, religion, sociology and communication majors have formed the new history, culture and society department, chaired by Professor of Sociology Tim Buzzell.

This is a pilot year for the department to see if it will work, but Buzzell thinks the department will stay intact.

“I think the enthusiasm among the faculty right now is so high, that I think this will stay, I really do,” Buzzell said.

With a focus on interdisciplinary courses, several similarities were found between the department’s majors, as well as the department’s three minors: conflict management, church leadership and social justice.

“We kind of saw … if we could share some classes, we could do more,” Buzzell said. “We could just do more for our students in terms of all sorts of programs.”

Susan Emel, associate chair of history, culture and society, said the hope is having more connectivity between courses will be more exciting to students.

“There are pretty classical academic divisions, humanities, social sciences, sciences, fine arts,” Emel said. “This idea was to sort of try and break out of those molds and come up with something new that would be inspirational to both the faculty and prospective students.”

The international studies major also relocated for the 2010-2011 school year, moving to the language and literature department.

Ryan Beasley, associate professor of international studies, said it is still unclear whether international studies will become part of the department, whether it will still be a separate program with the department or if another fate is in store for the program.

“It could fit in different places,” Beasley said. “I know there had been some ideas about developing a center for global studies that the international studies program could be a part of, as well as other things on campus.”

After the reduction and reallocation process, Beasley resigned as the director of the international studies program.The position was then given to Professor of German Cynthia Appl, who is also the chair of the language and literature department.

As a result of the department changes, several professor’s offices have relocated as well.

Emel and Adjunct Instructor of Communication Jo Anne Gibson-Lucas have moved from Pulliam Hall to Mabee Memorial Hall, while Beasley’s office is located on the first floor of Case Hall.

Buzzell believes the merging departments and focus on interdisciplinary programs are keeping Baker ahead of the pack.

“I think Baker is way ahead of other schools in this regard,” Buzzell said. “The new (general education) program really fits what we’re doing in terms of interdisciplinary work. So, those are a great marriage, they’re a great partnership there in terms of academic content.”