New semester carries new courses

Written By Mitchell Drake, Staff Writer

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The incoming spring of 2019 brings another semester for Point Park students, but also brings new courses available that allow for even more enrollment opportunities.

The majority of the following classes were drafted and began to take shape in Fall 2018, but some will debut in Spring 2019, according to Angela Sexton, assistant registrar.

With the creation of the new community engagement and social change minor, its coordinators also began courses such as CENG 150: Intro to Community Engagement, CENG 250: Advocacy and Social Change, CENG 350 Social Inequalities and Health and CENG 450: Community Engagement Seminar.

Students taking CENG 150: Intro to Community Engagement will learn to assess community needs through human-centered design thinking and explore approaches to social change, strategic planning and conflict management according to the course description in undergraduate catalog. The course will also examine how power, privilege and oppression affect communities with outdoor education and community building exercises.

CENG courses were supplemented in February 2018, when a minor in women’s and gender studies was added. The new classes included CENG 160: Intro to Women and Gender Studies and CENG 360: Feminist Theory.

The CENG 160: Intro to Women and Gender Studies course will have students examine the construction of identities such as gender and biological sex across nations and cultures, within academic disciplines and how gender is perceived in popular media. Students will also seek to understand women’s issues in the U.S. and internationally, paying particular attention to how race, sexuality, class and other factors create differences among groups. The course is intended to promote ways in which students can work individually and together to promote social change in an effort to advance the equality of all people.

In Jan. 2018, the class NSET 182: Are We Alone? The Search for Life in the Universe was added as an option for the Investigate Science Core Objective for Honors students. The course allows students to explore astrobiology, the study of life in the universe, and to have students form their own evidence-based conclusions about whether life exists elsewhere in the cosmos.  The course is organized by Brendan Mullan, Assistant Professor of Physics and Assistant Director of the Honors Program.

“Students will conduct independent research on topics related to a term in the ‘Drake Equation,’ a mathematical framework for estimating the number of intelligent civilizations in the galaxy,” Mullan explained.

Alongside astrophysics, students will learn topics in geology, biology and chemistry to understand potential alien life. They will also be treated to an informative trip to the Allegheny Observatory to learn about Pittsburgh’s role in advancements in astrophysics and will explore various pieces of science fiction.

“At the end of the semester, students combine their results for all terms in the Drake equation to estimate the number of civilizations in the Galaxy,” Mullan said.

For journalism majors, Spring 2019 brings the new JOUR 319: Data Journalism and Visualization. Christopher Rolinson, professor of photography, environmental journalism and photojournalism coordinator, took advantage of the Heinz Endowments’ Next Generation: Environmental Journalism grant to create a course in data analytics and reporting.

“The course will benefit students by providing a needed skill in modern journalism,” Rolinson said.

The data journalism course would teach students where to find reliable data and how to uncover stories buried in spreadsheets and PDFs. Students learn to use various software to analyze, “scrub” and present what they find in the data, combining the tenets of journalism with computer-assisted reporting skills.

Combining analysis and traditional reporting tools to create a data-driven news package is a skill that Rolinson believes aspiring journalists require to maintain a career in online-driven media outlets.

A new bachelor’s degree in Social Justice Studies was created in April 2018, spawning courses like SJS 101: Foundations in Social Justice Studies and SJS 175: Intro to Human Geography. 

SJS 101 provides an introduction to conceptualizations of social justice, including distributive justice, deliberative justice and redistributive justice. Students will also offer analysis social justice, namely, liberalism, Marxism and post-structuralism.

SJS 175 introduces students to the fundamental concepts of human geography and learn about geographies from across the world, paying considerable attention to the ways in which social inequalities work through and are reinforced by different geographic patterns. The course also serves to introduce students to some of the key sub-disciplines of human geography, including urban geography, economic geography and political geography. 

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