Three new programs are in the process of being added to the curriculum at Texas State, one of which will be the first of its kind in the country.
Beginning in fall 2015, the university will offer a Master of Science degree with a major in Dementia and Aging Studies. Andrea Golato, dean of the Graduate College, said the program will fill a large societal need.
“Particularly for dementia studies, there is a huge need in any number of disciplines,” Golato said. “People in all different industries and in all different sectors of life have to deal with this particular problem. There is a real need for people who have training in that. In Europe, there are a number of programs already in place, and here in the United States we have less.”
Texas State will be the first university in the nation to offer a graduate-level educational program focused on person-centered dementia care in the nation. The program will be comprised entirely of online courses, a decision Golato said was designed to accommodate part-time students. According to enrollment projections, part-time students are estimated to make up 40 percent of the total program enrollment.
“Making the program online provides better opportunities for individuals who are currently working in a full-time job, but realize the additional credentials could lead to job advancement,” Golato said. “An online program will allow them more flexibility to participate.”
According to the program proposal, two new staff positions were created for the program. A member of administrative support was hired fall 2013, and a new senior lecturer will be hired next fall.
According to Debbie Thorne, the associate vice president for Academic Affairs, both of these salaries will be paid through online course fees, not out of the traditional university budget.
Texas State has developed a Graduate Minor in Diversity Studies that is expected to begin fall 2014. According to the program proposal, the minor will cover theories on the intersection of race, gender, class and issues related to sexual orientation, ethnic identity and physical disabilities.
Golato said being more aware of diversity could be beneficial to almost any career path.
“Knowing about diversity is becoming increasingly important because our society is becoming more and more diverse. Understanding diversity is huge,” Golato said. “A lot of the major issues society is facing can’t really be looked at from just one perspective anymore. You have to keep multiple perspectives in mind.”
No new faculty will need to be hired for the minor.
The third program is a Bachelor of Science major in Interdisciplinary Science. It includes a Composite Science Teacher Certification for grades seven through 12.
Stan Carpenter, dean of the College of Education, said science and math scores have dropped in recent years, and the program was designed in an attempt to remedy the situation.
“This is one of the areas that we seem to be falling behind in in the United States,” Carpenter said. “It is the case in math and science with the increasing need for more and more technology, that we do need more and more science and mathematics teachers to prepare the workforce. In Texas, we’re no different.”
The program is designed for students who hope to specifically teach science-related courses to gain an understanding of a variety of scientific disciplines. According to the program proposal, students who graduate from the program will be prepared to take the TExES certification exam for the composite science teaching certification. Those who successfully complete the exam will be prepared to teach any high school science subject.
“I think the interdisciplinary program is going to be very helpful indeed,” Carpenter said. “What we need is people out there who are literate in mathematics and science engaging with students.”