In order to open up new career possibilities for students, Goshen College has decided to add two new majors for the 2010-2011 school year: English writing and informatics.

The possibility of adding an English writing major has been discussed for years.  Beth Martin Birky, English Department Chair, said the English department has supported publishing student writing for years, noting that the first Pinchpenny Press books were hand-stitched together and sold in 1969.

This new major is intended to prepare students for writing in a professional setting, whether that means writing nonfiction, poetry, for the web or for agencies and businesses.  Since strong writing skills are one of the most desirable traits that employers look for in potential employees, this major should prepare students for a writing-focused career.

Other changes being made in the English department next year include new requirements that focus on world literature rather than only literature of the western culture, and flexibility was also added to the English minor.

“We want to provide students in any discipline with the opportunity to study literature, language and writing in a way that supports their professional goals and personal interests,” said Martin Birky.

The second new major, informatics, replaces the business information systems, computer science and applied mathematics majors, though students currently in these majors will have the chance to complete them.

David Housman, professor of mathematics and computer science, describes the major as “applied computing,” saying it’s meant to give computing skills, knowledge of a specific application area and a look at the ethical and social aspects involved.

“Informatics is computing that keeps the needs of people in the forefront and continuously asks ‘what are the best uses for technology?’” said Housman.

The decision to combine the current computing majors into one stems from the decline of students in these areas over the years, with 85 in 2001 and now only 17.  However since computing is so omnipresent in our society, Housman believes it’s still important to offer a program in which students can apply computing to their areas of interest.

To learn more about the English writing and informatics majors, contact Beth Martin Birky or David Housman respectively.