UP adds new nursing major and engineering minor

Integrative health and wellness studies major and innovation minor

By Madison Pfeifer | November 27, 2018 3:51pm
As the name implies, the integrative health and wellness studies major brings together various fields of health, previously isolated as singular fields of study.
Media Credit: David Jacobs / The Beacon

Starting next year, a new major, a bachelor of science in integrative health and wellness studies, and a new minor, innovation, will be offered to students at UP. 

Over the last several years, a major in integrative health and wellness studies and a minor in innovation were proposed by both professors and students on campus. The major and minor went through long processes of consideration and development before they were approved this year at an Academic Senate meeting. Courses for the new areas of study are expected to start in the 2019-20 school year.

Integrative health and wellness studies will provide students with a major or minor that focuses on the health and wellbeing of the whole person. Two and a half years ago, associate nursing professor Pamela Potter, nursing faculty member Tanya Bachman and retired former faculty member Karen Cameron formed a committee to create an area of study that focused on a holistic approach to healthcare and wellness.

“Holistic health is harmony of body, mind and spirit,” Potter said. “People are more than just physical bodies. The idea of integrated health and integrated medicine is that we use the best approaches for a person and the appropriate practitioner.”

Getting the major approved at UP has taken a few years. As the committee received feedback, they made changes and constructed their final proposal for the major that they presented to the Curriculum and Academic Regulations Committee (CAR) which handles any possible curriculum changes. 

After being thoroughly vetted by the CAR, the proposal then went to the Academic Senate for a final decision. This senate consists of faculty members from different departments on campus who are a part of committees and meet for regularly scheduled meetings several times a year. A unanimous vote by the senate approved the major. 

Potter said she hopes that students will benefit from this new area of study. Through this major, students will gain a new perspective on healthcare and learn different therapeutic approaches to healing like herbal remedies and coloring. They will also learn how the mind, body and spirit are all interconnected.

“I think the focus is from illness care to wellness, really identifying what keeps people well,” Potter said.

Courses for the major are expected to begin next fall, but this spring, there will be two electives offered in the nursing program that will count towards the major for current students.

These courses will be Mind/Body/Energy Perspectives, which will focus on the intersection of the mind, body and spirit, and Nature’s Pharmacy, which will explore the idea of food and herbs as medicine. Current nursing professors will teach both the new courses. 

Future courses for the major will focus on all aspects of integrative health and specific concentrations of integrative health such as promoting wellness, educating health, coaching health and organizing community. The School of Nursing hopes to hire new faculty members who are certified healthcare educators to teach some of the courses.

Potter said that students who graduate with this degree will be able to take the Certified Health Education Specialist exam and can also work in a variety of environments like hospitals, senior centers, churches, fitness centers and more. With a number of different career paths available through the major, some current students are already interested in studying integrative health and wellness. Sophomore organizational communication major and Beauchamp fitness instructor Lauren Carlos plans to minor in the new area of study.

“There’s so many different types of wellness that I want to expand my knowledge of and appreciation for different types of wellness so that I can enlighten other people about them,” Carlos said. “I think it’s a fundamental part of not only education but its applicable to everyone.”

This major was not the only new area of study to be passed by the Academic Senate. A minor in innovation was also officially approved during the meeting and added to the School of Engineering as a collaborative minor.

The Shiley School of Engineering has a new minor called innovation.
by David Jacobs / The Beacon

“Some faculty across campus realized that students were asking for opportunities where they could work with students of other majors on projects,” Dean of the Shiley School of Engineering Sharon Jones said. “In the real world, you’re not separated by discipline.”

A few years ago, a committee consisting of communication professor Jennette Lovejoy, engineering professor Timothy Doughty and marketing professor Ian Parkman was formed to develop the new minor. 

“We really wanted to do things where different majors are getting together and working together and also partnering with industry and getting students outside the classroom, visiting design firms, but also being able to think about problems that these companies are really wrestling with,” Lovejoy said.

The committee conducted research about a possible area of study that could bring students of all majors together and teach a mindset of innovation. According to Lovejoy, innovation means creating value through new ideas. 

The committee looked at others universities such as University of Notre Dame, Xavier University and Rochester Institute of Technology that currently offer minors in innovation. They also led focus groups consisting of students from a range of majors and found out what they wanted from their courses at UP.

Jennette Lovejoy, a professor at UP, helped with the creation of the new innovation minor along with other UP professors.

by David Jacobs / The Beacon

Lovejoy said that students in the focus group wanted courses centered on problem solving and wanted to practically apply what they had been learning. Students also thought an innovation minor would lead them to asking better questions.

“I think (the minor) will prepare students for a way of thinking that will not just be nice, but actually necessary to be nimble and agile in the workplace and be able to strategize,” Lovejoy said. 

She said that computers and technology are taking away jobs but also said, “strategic thinking, critical thinking, having empathy — those are human skills. Computers won’t take that away right now.”

The minor will be a cohort minor, meaning that there will be an application process to be accepted into the program. Out of the student applicants, 25 will be chosen to join the minor, in the hopes that the small group will bond and work closely with each other throughout their time in the program.

Students will be able to take courses in innovation starting in the spring of 2020. The university plans to hire a new director of innovation who will be in charge of the program and teach some of the courses. 

All of the courses offered for the minor will be new to UP. These courses include an introduction to design class, a course on empathy, a course that teaches students how to sketch and make prototypes and a collaborative practicum course where students will apply what they have learned and attempt to solve real world problems that companies may be facing. 

Those involved with the minor hope the new area of study will benefit the UP community.

“There are many aspects of innovation happening across campus,” Jones said. “What we’re hoping is that with this innovation minor, it will continue to grow the culture so that we become a culture where it is common to work across majors, common to work on multidisciplinary projects, and common to engage in those empathetic, team building types of experiences.” 

Madison Pfeifer is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at pfeifer21@up.edu.