September 5, 2014

What’s in a name?: Two departments set to receive new names

Two degree programs in the College of Arts and Sciences – Liberal Studies and Justice Administration – are changing the names of their majors. Both programs seek to attract talented students with a passion for their selected field of study. The new names will promote a better understanding about the programs’ coursework.

Liberal Studies offers the Individualized Major

What does a student within the Individualized Major study? The answer is, nearly anything he or she wants. According to their webpage, the University of Louisville’s Liberal Studies program allows students to design their own plan of study “in areas not available within an existing departmental curriculum.”

In the spring of 2014 the Liberal Studies program decided to tailor their name to better describe the major. The College of Arts and Sciences approved the change to the Individualized Major (BA).

“The Liberal Studies program researched national trends and found that the preferred title for programs such as ours has become ‘Individualized Major,’” said Sarah Gierke, senior academic counselor for Liberal Studies.

In the past, U of L students designed their own majors in Social Empowerment through Art, Music Industry/Pre-Law, Crime-Related Interviewing, and International Business. Their website boasts that students have created “hundreds of individualized programs.”

With a new label as the Individualized Major, emphasis is on the students.

“This title better represents the intent of the degree – to allow students to create a cohesive plan of study while pulling from multiple disciplines to best prepare them for their future goals,” says Gierke.

Sophomore Jeremy Ball, a prospective Individualized Major student, wishes to do just that. When he found that the University of Louisville did not offer a degree program in International Relations, he decided to create one for himself.

“The program will bring in the concepts of political science, history and philosophy, with the aim to capture the political and traditional cultures of every area of the globe,” says Ball.

Ball must present a written proposal to the Individualized Major program before gaining acceptance. He hopes his plan of study will prepare him for his future career.

When asked about the program’s move to the Individualized Major, Ball said he was not aware of the change. He does not recognize a clear difference between the two labels.

“Both [Liberal Studies and the Individualized Major] seem broad enough to where an explanation will always be needed on a resume or in an interview,” says Ball. “My hope is that I have the opportunity to explain it.”

“There is a difference to how people respond to ‘Individualized Major’ as compared to Liberal (or General) Studies,” said Gierke.

The new name describes a plan of study where the passions of the individual student are in focus.


Justice Administration will become Criminal Justice 

The Department of Justice Administration is undergoing a similar change, although the official renaming will not take place until July 1, 2015. After that date, the field of program at U of L will be known as the Department of Criminal Justice.

The Department of Justice Administration chose to adapt their name to meet the national trend in similar programs.

“Over the years, we have had to explain how our program is comparable to criminal justice programs and, since there is no difference, we decided to change the name of our degrees and our department,” said department chair Dr. Deborah Keeling.

In addition, the name change will attract prospective Criminal Justice students to the University of Louisville.

“[The renaming] is also a response to changing technology and marketing strategies,” says Dr. Keeling.

The Internet has shifted the way students select degree programs and universities. As the Department of Justice Administration, the University of Louisville did not appear in some search engine results.

“My professors have stressed how important and beneficial the change is for current students,” says Miranda Stone, a junior Justice Administration major. “Personally, I welcome the change of labeling.”

Stone believes that the renaming of her major will be more recognizable to future employers.

“If I am asked what my major is and I answer Justice Administration, I am usually asked if that is like Criminal Justice,” says Stone.

The Justice Administration program has posted updates via Facebook and printed materials about the Summer 2015 renaming. The hope is to reduce any confusion surrounding the name change.

“[The Department of Criminal Justice] should, in reality, produce a more accurate and representational label for our program and therefore, greater understanding rather than confusion among students,” says Dr. Keeling.


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