Goshen College recently announced its upcoming addition of 12 new programs of study in hopes of increasing student enrollment.The new majors that will be offered are engineering physics, environmental and marine science, sign language interpreting, sustainability management, sustainability studies and sustainable food systems. New minors include music for social change and musical theater.
There are also tracks in earth and climate science and a music for social change concentration. Additionally, an English learners license is being offered as an add-on for working teachers.
“Faculty were invited to develop new program proposals for investment that build on the college’s identity and strengths,” said Jodi Beyeler, director of communications. “In that way, these programs are the fruits of our faculty.”
Part of the proposals and plans for these programs was having the faculty identify how these programs would recruit more students. This process of investment will continue in the future by reassessing the programs after several years to see if they are doing what the college hoped they would.
The sign language interpreting major is one of the new programs of study, although it is really a revision of the current ASL interpreting major.
“The reason for this change is to reflect the current trend in our profession,” said Colleen Geier, program director and associate professor of ASL interpreting. “We not only interpret between English and American Sign Language, there are times when we use signed English.”
The name change represents a move to be more inclusive of the variety of different signed languages and systems that can be used by clients.
“We’re excited about all the changes we’ll be making,” said Geier. “We’re able to add some classes, which will help our students be even better prepared for internship and employment.”
Changes will be made to give students more experience and specific training in areas that have been weak.
“We want Goshen College to be known as the place to go if you want to become a sign langue interpreter,” said Geier. “Keep us in your prayers as we tackle this big job and make some exciting additions to our program.”
Similar to the sign language major, the environmental and marine science major is a revision to the environmental science major, with changes to how the program is set up and what some of the requirements are.
“Students who elect this major are immersed in opportunities in field work in Kenya savannas, prairie restoration here in Indiana and marine biology in our field station in the Florida Keys,” said Ryan Sensenig, professor of biological and environmental science.
Sensenig is optimistic about future collaborative opportunities with other universities to offer more programming in the Florida Keys. “This builds on GC’s 50-year history of programming in marine science,” said Sensenig.
There is also now a concentration in music for social change in the music major, as well as a new minor in music for social change.
“I am very excited that these initiatives will help the music program connect more with our surrounding community and programs nationally,” said Beverly Lapp, professor of music. “This is an interdisciplinary degree that promotes career pathways for those who want to use their music skills to be change agents in their future communities.”
Ross Peterson-Veatch, the interim vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, said that the most fundamental reason the college decided to add these programs was to extend the mission of the college to broader audiences along with drawing more students to GC.
“I hope the programs will help us to attract more students who will make great contributions to our community and who will graduate and make a difference in the world,” said Peterson-Veatch.
Peterson-Veatch acknowledged that there are always risks with starting new programs, so it’s hard not to be apprehensive until new students join them.
“But I’m excited about [the new students] and about the good response we’ve gotten so far,” said Peterson-Veatch.
So far, there has been an increased interest in these new programs. The press release that was released on Jan. 23 has been read over 3,000 times, which is more than most press releases are read.
Additionally, last Saturday was Celebrate Scholars Day, and there were a number of prospective students on campus who were excited about the new programs.
“There was one student that when they heard that we were offering a musical theater minor, they were jumping up and down all day, so excited and [saying] ‘Now I know I’m going there,’” said Beyeler. “There’s definitely been some interest, some buzz and excitement as well.”
Beyeler encourages current students to tell people who they think would be interested in these new programs about them.
“Students are great ambassadors for this place,” said Beyeler. “If you’re having a good experience we hope that you’re able to share that excitement with people who are still in high school.”