Eastern Connecticut State University will offer four new academic programs in the coming 2016-17 academic year — a major in criminology and minors in bioinformatics, environmental health science and insurance. All four programs are in response to local and national workforce needs and labor market projections.
The criminology major, available this fall semester, will explore the social construction of crime, the causes of criminal behavior and the societal responses to crime. Grounded in a sociological perspective, the new program will investigate the intersection of social inequality, diversity, crime and justice.
“As our society continues to grow in diversity, and as public dollars shift from traditional corrections jobs into alternative sentencing measures, the need for broadly trained criminologists will grow significantly,” said Sociology Professor Theresa Severance. “This major will produce criminologists who are culturally sensitive, critical thinkers and effective communicators.”
The criminology major aligns with a number of career paths, including traditional criminal justice roles such as police officer or corrections supervisor; community service roles such as drug abuse/domestic violence counselor or positions with related nonprofit organizations; or analytical and policy-making roles focusing on crime research and analysis.
The bioinformatics minor, also available this fall, will prepare students for Connecticut’s growing biomedical and pharmaceutical industry. Using computational and mathematical tools, the goal of the program is to teach students how to analyze genomic information, which is revolutionizing our understanding of health and disease.
“Eastern is one of the only schools in the region to offer an undergraduate program in bioinformatics,” said Garret Dancik, bioinformatics and computer science professor. “This is a great opportunity for students interested in using computer science and mathematics to solve important biomedical problems, such as better diagnosing and treating genomic diseases like cancer.”
With the relocation of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Research to Farmington, and other similar organizations, Gov. Dannel Malloy has identified the bioscience industry as a key area for economic growth in Connecticut. The bioinformatics minor will expose students to current bioinformatics tools and databases and train them to apply bioinformatics programming to solve problems in biology.
The environmental health science minor, available this fall, will explore the relationship between human health and the environment, and how one influences the other.
“This minor is a timely addition to the offerings at Eastern,” said Catherine Carlson, professor of hydrogeology and hydrology. “Who hasn’t heard about the Zika virus or water crisis in Flint, MI? These are just two examples of how the intersection of human activities and the environment influences health. Environmental health science addresses a myriad of such intersections.”
The versatile minor is particularly appropriate for students majoring in health sciences, environmental earth science and biology, but also supports those students whose careers will involve them closely with the public, such as those majoring in communication, sociology, social work and political science.
The insurance minor, available in the spring 2017 semester, is meant to meet the needs of the ever-changing health care system as well as forecasts that predict greater demands for new employees in the insurance industry. The minor is particularly suitable for students majoring in finance, business administration, accounting and economics.
The global insurance industry expanded by 26 percent from 2010 to 2015, reaching more than $5.1 trillion in 2015. Life insurance represents the leading market segment with almost 58 percent of the overall market in terms of value. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an additional million jobs in finance between 2012 and 2022, and an increase of five million jobs in health care and social assistance for the same period.
“As these activities increase so will insurance for those activities,” said Finance Professor Chiaku Chukwuogor. “It is important that we position our students to take advantage of this growing industry by offering this minor in insurance.”