10 Innovative College Majors
There was a time, once upon a time not too long ago, when you went to college to study medicine, science, teaching, business, or law. Then, all sorts of changes started in the 80s. The change in academic focus and student needs continues to redesign and redirect higher education. Here are 10 degree majors you never heard of five years ago.
1. Game Culture and Technology
The University of California at Irvine created this bachelor’s degree program for the video game generation. Given that the video gaming industry continues to grow and evolving tastes pose more innovative problems for the programmers, the need is there. The curriculum is crosses study disciplines when it draws on film studies and fine arts as well as programming skills and computer engineering. They expect their engineers and visionaries to create new and alternative realities for new markets to consume.
2. Puppetry Arts
It might take some persuasion for a parent to cough up thousands of dollars in tuition to graduate a puppeteer, but s/he would likely be the only one in the family. Nevertheless, the University of Connecticut offers such a major. If you accept the fact that puppetry is an ancient art and that there is regular, and often high demand, for puppeteers in theatre, education, television, and the movies, it starts to make sense. Puppeteers, for example, have major roles in The Lion King, War Horse, and Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark are fundamentally Broadway’s puppet shows.
3. Underwater Crime Investigation
Crime Scene Investigation takes its study under water at Florida State University. Crimes happen in Florida, and sometimes it happens underwater. Other times, the evidence is dumped there. In any case, this program gives the underwater detective new tools and methodology to catch the bad guys. The program also works with NASA’s oceanography programs that focus on exploration of new frontiers under the seas.
Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh serves all those students who believe that robots have always been a part of our lives and that artificial intelligence is just within reach. It is a perfect match for all those kids who tinkered their way through scouts and middle school. The major invites young people who see their world in terms of Legos. This academic major rewards innovation and creativity as it encourages competition for prizes and scholarships.
5. Engineering Psychology
Tufts University offers a related major in the building of robots, machines, and gadgets that employ human factors, for example, those that measure heartbeats or transmit medical history. The intent is to make mechanics, tools, and appliances more user friendly and human interactive. This may involve building intelligence into the machine or reflecting intelligence of the users around.
6. Green Interior Design
The Rocky Mountain College or Art and Design offers studies in the design of energy-efficient spaces. Designing eco-friendly office space, retail and worship spaces, for example, involves natural lighting, recycled fabrics and materials, environmentally sound paint, plumbing, and wiring, etc. This could lead to new construction standards and rethinking of restoration and rebuilding projects.
7. Transportation Design
The Art Center, College of Design (Pasadena) has taught car design for years. Graduates have produced designs like the Mazda Miata and now dominate the Ford design center in Southern California. However, they are now focused on high-speed transportation and on the interior design of vehicles. They work with graphic designers, specialists in arthritis and gerontology, and disability access. Their projects serve new automotive markets for the near and far future.
8. Food Science
Cornell University offers a major in Food Service combining interests in chemistry and cooking. It serves growing interests in Culinary Arts, Viticulture, and Oenology. With demanding courses in microbiology, chemical engineering, and organic chemistry, studies everything on your plate. It examines what you eat and how it got there. It is interested in what it does for you and what is good about its origins and processing.
9. Disaster Science and Management
Louisiana State University learned some tough lessons under Hurricane Katrina. The program focuses on biohazards, terrorism, and natural and manufactured disasters. An inter-disciplinary program, it draws on engineering, architecture, demographics, cultural needs, and political response mechanisms.
10. Security and Intelligence
Similar fears drove Ohio State University to introduce courses in terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. An inter-disciplinary program, it teaches bioterrorism and linguistics, intelligence systems and information gathering. The University makes no bones about having connections with US Government Intelligence, Military Intelligence, and the CIA. Professionals from all agencies teach in the program and provide graduates to their agencies.
There are also programs in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to impress you. However, the following majors may suit your needs better:
· Bowling Industry Management at Vincennes University
· Piano Pedagogy at Belmont University
· Family and Consumer Science at Liberty University
· Eco Gastronomy at the University of New Hampshire
· Turf and Golf Course Management at the University of Maryland
· Packaging at Michigan State University’s School of Packaging
· Equine Studies at Becker College and the University of Maryland
· Jazz Studies at the University of Texas, the University of Louisville, and a number of other schools
· Bakery Science at Kansas Sate
· Blacksmithing at Southern Illinois University
In addition, two of my personal favorites are the major in Bagpipes at Carnegie Mellon and the major in Canadian Studies at Duke, Johns Hopkins, SUNY Plattsburgh, and the University of Vermont.
Now, I want it to be clear that I do not dismiss or demean these programs. They are each offered by quality institutions and must meet their accreditation standards. The programs serve student needs and, in doing so, place them in new careers paths that better serve the future and the economy. Like it or not, this is not a world or a culture that is preoccupied with its past or science that has been outgrown. There is a new math in the world, a new normal, and institutions of higher learning are obliged to serve it well.