Regents approve three new majors at UW-Whitewater

December 12, 2011

Environmental ScienceComputer ScienceJapanese

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will be able to choose from 51 majors in 2012, including environmental science, computer science and Japanese, which were recently approved by the Board of Regents.

Environmental science

In this unique program, students will not only gain important skills like environmental writing, but will participate in lab and fieldwork experiences, too. Students can travel to an environmentally sensitive area for an international study trip, do an internship or complete an undergraduate research project.

Students can choose an emphasis in natural science (ecology), geoscience (water) or environmental management (sustainability).

"We have tremendous resources for this major, from the science equipment in Upham Hall to the campus nature preserve and nearby streams, lakes and forests," said David Travis, associate dean of the College of Letters and Sciences.

Faculty members from three colleges and 13 departments will be teaching courses in what will be a cross-disciplinary major.

"The timing is right and all job growth indicators point to environmental science as a top field in the 21st century," Travis said. "Environmental consulting is a huge area. Businesses are realizing the importance of understanding the environment and managing natural resources as a means to survive and thrive."


Computer science

The new computer science major at UW-Whitewater will complement a robust technology presence on campus, which already includes programs in Management Computer Systems, Information Technology, and Media Arts and Game Development.

The major is geared toward students who want to pursue careers in software engineering, commercial software production, systems programming, Web development, and network, database, or computer design.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of the 10 fastest-growing careers for college graduates are computer science-related.

"As a country, we're not producing enough graduates," said Jonathan Kane, professor of mathematical and computer sciences. "This is a very lucrative field offering some of the highest starting salaries.

"Although some computer programming jobs have been moved overseas, the creative design and implementation tasks cannot be run from another country, and a huge number of these jobs are going unfilled."



Japanese courses at UW-Whitewater were proving so popular, that the College of Letters and Sciences decided to create a major.

This new program focuses on Japanese language proficiency, and includes coursework in East Asian history and culture.

In a unique collaboration with UW-Oshkosh, students will be able to take some upper-level elective courses online. For example, UW-Whitewater will offer courses in Japanese media, and UW-Oshkosh courses will include advanced writing and religion.

"Students will have enough breadth and background that they can walk into an international environment and not rely on translation," said Larry Neuman, professor of sociology.

Students will be required to travel to Japan in a field study trip, semester abroad or summer internship.

In addition to a written term paper, students will also take a national language exam sanctioned by the Japanese government. There is no score requirement to graduate, Neuman said, but because the test is internationally recognized, students who score well can use it to help them get jobs.

Career opportunities include international business, tourism and travel, and translation services.


Students will be able to register for the Japanese major in January 2012. Environmental science and computer science will be available in September. However, students can begin taking courses immediately, as the requirements will be posted online at the College of Letters and Sciences website.


Sara Kuhl