New majors and minors introduced in SESS


Tori Flick

The School of Education and Social Sciences has introduced two new majors and three new minors to Robert Morris University and the programs have been received with extremely positive support from students and faculty.

As of the beginning of the 2015 fall term, students have the opportunity to major and minor in political science and criminal justice, and beginning in the 2016 spring term, there will also be a women’s and gender studies minor offered.

The decision and process of introducing these new areas of studies began last fall in 2014, and were approved by the spring semester. Immediately following the approval, faculty were hired for these new programs during the summer to make them available to students by the fall term.

These new majors and minors were selected based on market studies to find what courses would be most valuable to add to the RMU social sciences program.

“A lot of students are interested in law school and so political science is one of the pathways to get there,” said Lauren Rauscher, PhD, Women’s Leadership & Mentorship Program coordinator. “And we also had a lot of demand for criminal justice that is a new online program that we have in the department.”

The psychology major celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, and was the second major introduced after the original social sciences major, which is also still currently available. Since then, sociology has been added based on its appeal to women, along with the more recent study focuses, that hope to be just as successful as psychology.

The new programs are designed to be beneficial and functional for the students taking them.

“We wanted to make sure that our graduates were employable and we also contacted the leaders in the fields and we looked at the jobs that were available,” said Frank Hartle, PhD, criminal justice assistant professor.

The marketability of students is one of the most important policies within the social sciences since adding these new majors and minors. For many of the added fields their impact on RMU is very positive and successful, even in the infancy of their development.

“It really is a great fit with Robert Morris,” said Philip Harold, PhD, the assistant professor of political science. “Our namesake was one of the most important patriots in the founding era of our country, so Robert Morris the financier won us the revolutionary war on the political side.”

The political science field in particular will be offering many students different opportunities such as an educational trip to the District of Columbia.

The social sciences have always been a close knit department, despite these recent decisions, the relationship between all of these is extremely strong and collaborative.

“My experience so far is everyone is very receptive and courteous and respectful of each other’s disciplines, we’re not competitive or overly jealous of each other’s disciplines or insecure,” said Justin Deplato, PhD, assistant professor of political science.

The cooperative nature of the social sciences is an encouraging figurehead for incoming students to feel like they have a place to function and expand as they gain experience in their respective fields.

These new additions to the social sciences will likely be the last majors and minors added according to the dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences.

“We have a full plate of majors in the social sciences,” said Dean Mary Ann Rafoth. “We can compete with any other university in the diversity that we offer and the choices we offer students. So what we’ll concentrate on now is building them and improving them.”