Graphic by Elise Bechtel
By Emily Chang
In March, the CSU Board of Trustees approved CI’s proposal for 18 new academic programs, marking a milestone in the University’s already significant 20th year. The 18 proposed undergraduate and graduate programs represent the first significant revision to CI’s Academic Master Plan in 10 years. The CI View spoke to Provost Dr. Mitch Avila to learn more about the new academic programs and what they mean for CI.
Avila explained that, in hindsight, he would have expected CI to be adding two to three degrees a year for the last five to 10 years; however, we have plateaued at around 30 degrees. Because of this, CI is not offering all of the degrees that students in the area want or need, nor are the regional workforce needs being met.
He joked, “You know, not all of the degrees that students would want they can take here, right? And so they’re forced to do terrible things like go to CSUN.”
The process of deciding which new academic programs to propose is faculty driven. Back in Jan. 2022, there were about 60 proposals for degrees, and after feedback from the provost and workforce data, the faculty decided on the 18 that were presented to and approved by the CSU Board of Trustees.
These 18 new academic programs include:
- B.S. Data Science
- B.S. Cybersecurity
- B.S. Forensic Science
- B.S. Statistics
- B.A. Cinema & Emerging Media
- B.A. Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation
- B.A. Black & Africana Studies
- B.A. Native American & Indigenous Studies
- M.S. Business Analytics
- M.A. Psychology
- M.A. Public Administration
- M.S. Counseling
- M.S. Biology
- M.S. Digital Marketing
- M.S. Health Admin with Cert in Gerontology
- M.S. Public Health
- M.A. English
- Ed.D. Educational Leadership
Regional workforce needs encompass Santa Barbara, Ventura and parts of Los Angeles like Northern Los Angeles County. This information is drawn from a data base known as Lightcast. This labor market analytics tool offers insight into job postings, qualifications, who applies for these jobs and salaries, and maps the trends over time to give the University a sense of where the labor market is going.
To gauge student desire for certain academic programs, faculty conducted a gap analysis, which looked at enrollment patterns at other campuses as a proxy for our own student interests. For example, if at other CSUs and private schools there is high enrollment in social work programs, that would serve as evidence that there is a demand to guide the decisions at CI.
Some of the new academic programs could be added as quickly as fall 2024. This would apply to proposed degrees that already have established programs at CI, like the M.A. in psychology. But other academic programs might not be implemented for another three to five years, or more, depending on the ability to hire faculty and larger enrollment growth.
Before new degrees can be added, the curriculum must be developed. Avila said that, like the proposal process, the curriculum development is faculty driven. There is a review process by the school’s creditor, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Faculty also conduct an internal review before the curriculum goes up to the academic senate and finally the Chancellor’s office.
For some academic programs, new faculty may need to be hired to create the degrees, but for others, CI already has some faculty, like for the B.S. in Native American and Indigenous studies or cybersecurity.
Interim program chair and associate professor of Chicana/o studies, Dr. Jennie Luna, who has a Ph.D. in Native American studies, offered some insight into the proposed B.S. in Native American and Indigenous studies. She explained the degree would be interdisciplinary, involving public health, politics, culture and literature “from a very specific Native perspective, lens and theory.”
It would take a hemispheric approach, looking at indigenous peoples across the Western hemisphere, from Alaska to Argentina and the Pacific Islands. Luna said, “(A) hemispheric approach to Native studies offers a richer experience in understanding the migration, whether that migration was forced or chosen of peoples across this continent.” She gave an example of the Tohono O’odham in Arizona and the O’odham in Mexico. “They’re the same people, but literally the border crossed them. They didn’t cross the border. The borders crossed them.”
Jobs available to students of Native American and Indigenous studies would include roles in ethnic studies education, research, archeology, anthropology, linguistics, law, government and community development. Luna explained there are even job opportunities internationally, like in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Luna believes that this is a positive move for the University to incorporate the history of Native peoples, as we are on Chumash land. It would also allow us to build deeper relationships with all California Native peoples. “The history of Native people will help us to understand who we are as a humanity and where we would like to take our humanity.”
To learn more about the proposed B.S. in cybersecurity, The CI View reached out to assistant professor of computer science, Dr. Reza Abdolee. He said, “Cybersecurity involves protecting computer systems, networks, and sensitive information from unauthorized access, theft, or damage by cyber criminals or other malicious entities.”
The cybersecurity job market is diverse, and students could find work as cybersecurity analysts, network security engineers, information security managers, security consultants and security architects, to name some of the possibilities. Abdolee described that a B.S. in cybersecurity would “provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the latest cybersecurity technologies, practices, and policies, as well as practical experience in applying them to real-world situations.”
The field of cybersecurity is rapidly growing and there is an increasing demand for skilled professionals, which CI can prepare students for. Abdolee concluded, “It would also position CI as a leader in cybersecurity education, helping to meet the growing need for cybersecurity professionals in the workforce.”
Overall, the desired outcome for CI and its students with the new academic programs involve four goals: to meet state workforce needs, regional workforce needs, to grow enrollment at CI and lastly to embody some of our basic values as a campus. For example, inclusion of Asian American Pacific Islander studies and Native American and Indigenous studies upholds the University’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.
In closing, Avila stated, “(We) we can’t do everything all at once, but, if we do this well, and as we roll out degrees, we get more students, that means it’s more likely to have additional degrees later on … This is very rare. Most campuses never engage in this kind of level of production.” CI and its future students have a lot to look forward to as the University begins to implement its new academic programs, expanding the opportunities and perspectives on campus.