Next fall, Goshen College’s major and minor list will get a little bit longer.
On Oct. 17, Goshen College announced two new majors in public health, criminal justice and restorative justice. These programs will expand on the current programs Goshen already has, including nursing, biology, sociology and peace justice and conflict studies.
Ann Vendrely, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean, explained that the addition of these programs was possible because of donations specifically given with the formation of new areas of study in mind.
“We have some donor funds to support the development of these programs, so they aren’t taking away from our current programs at all,” Vendrely said. “It’s a real blessing that we have donors to help us start these things. They have given seed money to get us started.”
Vendrely expressed excitement at the opportunity to hire new faculty to help form the programs.
“We have a lot of expertise on campus, but we will need a little more with the new courses we will offer on campus.”
Brenda Srof, nursing professor and chair of the department, spoke about the increasing demand in the public health field.
STAMATS, a market analysis company, released a study showing that between 2013 and 2017, job postings for bachelor’s degrees in Public Health increased 36 percent.
There are only two other schools in Indiana that currently offer a bachelor’s degree in public health, but interest is growing rapidly.
At the University of Evansville, 16 students graduated with a degree in Public Health in 2017, compared to just two in 2014. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market will follow this trend. The growth rates for public health over the next eight years is projected to jump from 12.6 to 16.6 percent in Indiana.
According to Srof, a degree in Public Health is a bit more ambiguous than nursing.
“In the nursing program, at the end you take an exam to become a licensed nurse,” Srof said. “A person in this major might work in community health education, or for a non-profit group. There isn’t a licensing option, the job is less defined. There are a lot of options.”
The curriculum will be interdisciplinary, drawing from sociology, biology, nursing, psychology, and public health.
Many of the courses needed are already offered at Goshen, but a new faculty member will be hired to teach seven new public health courses.
Srof is excited about the potential for growth this program has.
“It is a really great fit with our mission and core values, with its emphasis on caring for people with health disparities, and the potential to expand towards a masters in public health one day,” said Srof.
The new criminal justice and restorative justice major will be housed in the peace, justice and conflict studies (PJCS) department. Regina Shands Stoltzfus, professor and department chair of PJCS, spoke about the difference between the two programs.
The criminal justice and restorative justice programs will not only have an emphasis on the criminal justice system, but also on using restorative justice principles and practices to help those caught up in the system, as well as those working within the system.
In order to begin developing the program, a new faculty person will be hired.
“I don’t have a background in criminology, I have a background in peace studies,” Shands Stoltzfus said. “The distinction between PJCS is this expertise in the criminal justice system that we don’t have here.”
Shands Stoltzfus also spoke about giving students real world experience, through a specialized internship.
“We already have some partnerships with the Goshen Police Department and the jail system, and those relationships are good,” she said. “All parties are interested in strengthening these relationships and supporting each other. We will need to build our system to fit within the requirements of other systems.”
Shands Stoltzfus is excited about the opportunity to look at the criminal justice system from a unique, restorative justice perspective.
“So much of the work of violence is about dehumanizing the other. When we dehumanize people we write them off, so that they have no room for creativity and growth,” she said.
Shands Stoltzfus, Srof and Vendrely emphasized that these new areas of study are simply extensions of what Goshen is already doing well, saying that we already have many of the faculty and programs in place. They are excited to see Goshen College continue to grow and create even more opportunities for current and future students.