The College of Charleston is always adapting, always growing – taking its direction from the ever-changing needs of the world and its students. That’s why it is launching four new programs of study this fall, ensuring its students are on course for whatever direction they want to go – whether that be autonomous vehicle design, nursing, earth and environmental systems issues or organizational strategy.

Environmental Geosciences

“We created the new environmental geosciences major to serve the growth in the environmental sector,” says Tim Callahan, chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, adding that feedback from the department’s alumni, prospective students and employers/partners underscored that demand, too. “The common thread was that they wanted courses to prepare students for the environmental fields. We really took that to heart.”

The new B.S. in environmental geosciences is an interdisciplinary program that begins with general geology courses and moves into geoscience literacy, studying how the environment is changing in response to natural and human factors.

RELATED: Find out about the geoinformatics minor that the College launched last fall.

“We want our students to be able to take geoscience foundations and apply them to environmental challenges like climate change, emerging pollutants and energy resources,” says Callahan, noting that the response from students has been good, with 6–8 declaring environmental geosciences as their major within the first few weeks it was available. “There’s been a lot of buzz about this – among not only new students, but also current students who want to go in this direction.”

The buzz makes sense, says Callahan, considering that the new program better prepares students for meeting the needs of potential employers not just in the environmental sector, but in a variety of other fields, too.

“Geosciences really touches on every aspect of life and can be used across all fields of employment,” he says. “Every employer in any sector needs someone who can be mindful and respective of the environment, someone who knows the language and has knowledge of environmental science: corporations looking to improve their environmental impact; local, state and national government agencies; policymakers; conservation groups. It’s something that’s more and more important today.”

Electrical Engineering

Also of growing importance in today’s job market are people who understand complex electrical control systems, which is why the College is also launching the first electrical engineering program of its kind in South Carolina.

Created with input from engineers and industry leaders, the B.S. in electrical engineering is designed to support economic development in the Lowcountry by producing well-rounded leaders who can contribute to this high-growth area of the economy. With an emphasis in autonomous electric vehicle design, the program gives its graduates a competitive advantage in the job market, especially as self-driving electric vehicles move into the mainstream. This is the second engineering major recently added at the College. The systems engineering major welcomed its first cohort of students in the fall of 2020.

“The electrical engineering degree program at the College of Charleston is developed with some focus on intelligent autonomous vehicle systems,” says Narayanan Kuthirummal, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “It is our objective to prepare electrical engineers to excel at designing, creating and managing complex control systems. In addition, our liberal arts–based education can offer much more to an engineer.”

Indeed, the interdisciplinary nature of the program – which includes access to internship and mentorship opportunities, hands-on laboratory and theoretical courses, as well as a senior design project – allows students to develop not just skills in electrical, wiring, networking and programming, but also skills in creative problem solving.

Minor in Management

Efficient, effective problem solving is, of course, applicable in all sectors of the workforce – and the new minor in management was created to help students hone their management skills, regardless of the organization or industry they go into.

“The management minor is a great option for students interested in the human side of business,” says Carrie Messal, chair of the Department of Management and Marketing. “Courses in the program include classic management topics like planning, organizing, leading and controlling for effective and efficient organizations. The courses also include discussions of race, equity, sustainability and innovation – topics with which we believe every student needs to become fluent, no matter their major or career direction.”

With opportunities to study personality, intelligence, human resource management, team dynamics, organizational culture and strategy, students who graduate with a minor in management will better understand how people work together to accomplish goals.

Nursing Partnership

The College has something new to offer students who want to go into the nursing field, too. A new partnership between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) allows selected CofC students to earn both a bachelor of arts in biology from the College and a bachelor of science in nursing from MUSC in only 4.5 years.

The partnership is similar to the University of South Carolina Upstate and College of Charleston dual-degree program established in 2020 that allows CofC students to earn two degrees in five years: one in biology from CofC and a bachelor of science in nursing from USC Upstate’s Mary Black School of Nursing.

Under the new partnership with MUSC, the MUSC College of Nursing will admit up to six CofC biology majors each year into its Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing program. Starting this fall, CofC biology students may apply for the program during their freshman year, and accepted students will be required to follow a strict semester-by-semester schedule of coursework and maintain a minimum cumulative and pre-requisite science GPA. Following their junior year, the accepted students will enter the MUSC program to complete the accelerated nursing program.

“We are grateful to the College of Nursing at MUSC for working with us to put this program in place for the freshman class of 2021,” says Karen Eippert, director of the College’s Health Professions Advising program. “It’s a unique opportunity for a select number of students who want a direct path into nursing while completing their four-year degree at CofC.”

Indeed, with the addition of these new academic programs, the College of Charleston provides even more pathways to success, no matter which direction students choose to go!