(Posted August 18, 2020)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Juniata College has developed three new programs beginning in the fall 2020 semester.

Criminal Justice will be offered as both a Program of Emphasis (POE) and as a secondary emphasis, Bioethics will be offered as a secondary emphasis, and Digital Humanities will be offered as a certificate program.

“All of these were initiated by our faculty members who saw these programs as relevant to contemporary students and as drawing upon our strengths as a liberal arts college,” said Juniata College Provost Lauren Bowen. “All are interdisciplinary and complement Juniata’s ability to equip students with the skills and knowledge employers seek in an ever-evolving economy.”

Each program is designed to prepare students for a society adapting to widespread changes.

“These programs are distinctive, relevant, and especially timely,” Bowen said. “Living in the midst of a pandemic and a time of social unrest underscored the need to offer academic programs that prepare our students for ethical leadership.”

Criminal Justice, a program previously offered at Juniata over a decade ago, will capitalize on the experiential learning and research opportunities the College has to offer.

“Policing, corrections, and courts — it takes a lot of work to adequately describe those systems,” said Daniel Welliver, professor of sociology. “They are complex and vary from state to state, so criminal justice seeks to understand the systems as they exist and to learn what is functional, what is dysfunctional, and what kinds of change are needed to solve the dysfunctions.”

Core courses required for the Criminal Justice POE incorporate sociology and ethics, which along with electives like English, psychology, and peace and conflict studies, provide a firm academic base. Experiential components include internships and/or participation in the Inside Out course designed in cooperation with the local state correctional facility.

“It is very interdisciplinary. The goal is to get students thinking about how to make decisions and stimulate the thought process,” Welliver said. “There are all kinds of possible pathways this can lead to and gives you all you need to be a thinker, a leader, and a change agent.”

Career trajectories for those with a degree in criminal justice are law enforcement, at a municipal, state, or federal level; corrections, as officers, reentry counselors, or drug and alcohol counselors; and in the wider field of criminal justice reform.

Bioethics is a field that has developed over the past 50 years in response to technological breakthroughs and a revolutionary new understanding of the human genome and the ethical quandaries those advances raise.

“One of the issues we grapple with in Bioethics is how to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the wellbeing of society. This problem comes up more and more in bioethics,” said Wade Roberts, associate professor of philosophy. “The impetus for this program emerged in part in response to a lack of ethical clarity in civil discourse. The development of this program can help promote conversation over ethical quandaries in the campus community and society.”

As a secondary emphasis, Bioethics is housed within the Philosophy Department, with interdisciplinary offerings such as history and cultural analysis from additional departments. The field serves as a complement to the studies of Juniata’s Health Professions students, who are looking to work in nursing, as a doctor, or as a physical therapist.

“Certainly, students in biology and social work will find this interesting as well,” Roberts said. “There is an increasing number of people who elect to pursue careers in healthcare consulting. It’s an emerging field. There is any number of physicians who will elect to pursue a master’s degree in bioethics in addition to their primary degree.”

Digital Humanities blends all of the traditional humanities — art history, classics, history, literature, performing arts, philosophy, theology, and anthropology—with advanced digital technology.

“A traditional human discipline is music, so suppose we had a chorus where you programmed AI (artificial intelligence) as an assistant for you to compose music using artificial intelligence as a collaborator,” said Don Braxton, J. Omar Good Professor of Religion. “I also teach courses in 3D printing and designed a work-study of religious artifacts through computer design work. We can reconstruct a rare African mask digitally on a simulation platform and 3D print it for use in classrooms.”

Through the combination of these two seemingly unrelated disciplines, students are afforded the opportunity to work with artifacts housed in museums around the world.

“When the students have completed the program, they will have a certificate showing future employers they are skilled in a particular set of processes,” Braxton said. “This helps humanities students highlight advanced computer skills so they can hit the ground running.”

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.