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College to offer new bachelor's degrees

The College of the Liberal Arts will launch five new degrees for residential and World Campus students, starting Fall Semester 2015 and beyond. The new degrees are: B.S. in Social Data Analytics; B.A. and B.S. in Global and International Studies; residential and online B.S. in Political Science; and online B.S. in Integrated Social Sciences.

"I’m very pleased we can offer these new opportunities for our students, degrees that combine the virtues of a liberal arts degree with specific preparation for a global world of instant communication, problems that need new ideas and scalable solutions, and issues that cry out for better understanding of cultural differences," said Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts.

Social Data Analytics Major (B.S.) is designed to prepare students for careers that use big data to tackle social and political problems. This interdisciplinary major will provide a unique combination of data analytic skills and social science knowledge that can be applied to various questions. It integrates courses in the social sciences with relevant ones in statistics, mathematics, information science, and computer science to hone skills necessary to analyze and contextualize large data, whether it be data pulled from internet communications or visualizations of the brain or the solar system.

Global and International Studies Major (B.A. and B.S.) combines expertise from various humanities and social sciences disciplines to understand the dynamic issues facing humans around the world. This interdisciplinary major helps prepare students for lives and careers in an increasingly interdependent world. The emphasis will be on global perspectives, foreign language study, and international study or work experiences.  Students may choose from one of six options:  global conflict, human rights, wealth and inequality, health and environment, culture and identity, or a personalized option.  

Political Science Major (B.S. residential and World Campus) emphasizes scientific and applied aspects of political science. In addition to broad coursework in political science, students will complete courses in statistics and research design,  social science methods,  and advanced political science courses that provide opportunities to apply quantitative research skills to substantive problems.

The Integrated Social Sciences Major (B.S. World Campus) synthesizes the broad sweep of the content, theories, and methodologies of the social sciences. The program draws on core social science disciplines: Anthropology, Communication Arts and Sciences, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. A final capstone portfolio will document integration and synthesis of major themes explored in the program.

College of the Liberal Arts appoints associate dean

The College of the Liberal Arts has appointed Paul C. Taylor, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Department of African American Studies, as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Dr. Taylor assumes the undergraduate education responsibilities formerly held by Christopher Long, who was named Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University. Eric Silver, Associate Dean for Research, will now be Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.

 “I am happy to welcome Paul to the College's leadership team.  He has the vision and experience to be an outstanding leader of this key college unit.  Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies is dedicated to helping our faculty and programs provide a first class education for our students.  Paul is committed to that mission,’’ said Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts.

“I am thrilled to take on this new role,” Professor Taylor said. “Undergraduate Studies has had the benefit of excellent and visionary leadership over the years, so I have the privilege of building on strengths. My goal will be to develop the college’s insistence on the Liberal Arts Edge, and to ensure that we provide this `edge’ to our students with approaches that are both accountable and ambitious.”

As a faculty member in philosophy and African American studies, Dr. Taylor focuses his teaching and research on race theory, social and political philosophy, Africana philosophy, aesthetics, and pragmatism. He has provided commentary on race and politics for national and international media, most recently the BBC News. 

Among his publications are Race: A Philosophical Introduction (Polity, 2013) and The Philosophy of Race (Routledge, 2012). Upcoming books include Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics (Blackwell) and On Obama (Routledge), both due out in the fall of 2015.

Dr. Taylor earned his bachelor of arts in philosophy with highest honors from Morehouse College, his master of arts and doctorate degrees in philosophy from Rutgers University, and a  master of public administration degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

He joined Penn State in 2010 and served as head of the Department of African American Studies starting in 2011. Previous faculty appointments include Temple University, the University of Washington, and the University of Kentucky.  Dr. Taylor also has held visiting academic appointments at the Winthrop House, Harvard University; Rhodes University, South Africa; and SUNY College at Oneonta.  His honors include the Edmond J. Safra Network Fellowship at Harvard University and the Bernard L. Schwartz Fellowship at the New America Foundation.

 

Historian finds impact of Head Start on civil rights

A federal preschool program did more than improve educational opportunities for poor children in Mississippi during the 1960s. The program also gave a political and economic boost to the state's civil rights activists, according to a Penn State historian.

A key provision of the federal Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which paved the way for several federal anti-poverty programs, was aimed at empowering the poor and sidestepping black disenfranchisement in the south, according to Crystal Sanders, an assistant professor of history and African American studies. Sanders said that Title II of the act created the Community Action Program that would be operated with "maximum feasible participation" of the poor.

Click here for full story.

College, University combat cyberattack

Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts network and systems have been successfully repaired and returned to service, after being taken offline on June 26 in response to two cyberattacks.  Dean Susan Welch thanks our IT staff and its leadership for their dedicated work, not only this weekend in executing the remediation, but in the weeks leading up to this weekend as they prepared for the work necessary to complete this monumental task. 

Starting Monday (June 29), College faculty, staff, and graduate students will be prompted to change their college ID password to enhance network security and better prevent and respond to future cyberattacks. Your user ID will be the same for your College and University accounts, but you will need to change your College password. More information can be found here.

Nina Jablonski elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Nina Jablonski was among 197 scholars and leaders to be elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation’s premiere honorary societies.  Read more at:  http://news.psu.edu/story/354948/2015/04/28/research/jablonski-elected-american-academy-arts-and-sciences and at:  https://www.amacad.org/content/news/pressReleases.aspx?pr=10233 )

Political scientists analyze impact of business on policy

Although most citizens tend to believe that big business owns Washington D.C., political science researchers suggests that business may have a less dominant and more complicated relationship with government than previously thought. In a study of randomly selected federal policy decisions between 1998 and 2002, the researchers found that when citizen interest groups and other competitors opposed businesses on policies, businesses had roughly an equal chance of success as the citizen group. When the researchers examined a shorter time period, businesses were only successful about a quarter of the time.

"We were pretty convinced that we were going to find that business did have an advantage, but, when going head-to-head against these citizen groups, government officials and other groups that represent occupational interests, business has no inherent advantage," said Marie Hojnacki, associate professor of political science, Penn State. Click here for the full story.

Researchers study Vitamin D, immune response

Nina Jablonski, the Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology, is part of an international team of researchers who has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation can reverse a deficiency and also improve immune response. Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. The researchers published their findings from a study of two ethnic groups in Cape Town, South Africa, to see how seasonal differences in exposure to ultraviolet B radiation, dietary vitamin D, genetics, and pigmentation affected vitamin D levels, and whether high-dose supplementation improved deficiencies and the cell's ability to repel HIV-1. Click here for full story.

Women's studies professor and head honored

Congrats to Dr. Carolyn Sachs, head of Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, for being honored with a lifetime achievement award! The Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society has chosen Professor Sachs to receive its 2015 Richard P. Haynes Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in Agriculture, Food and Human Values Award. Sachs' research examines issues of gender and agriculture and gender and environmental issues. Click here for full story. 

Economics PhD graduate receives top prize for young economists

Congrats to 2002 PhD economics graduate Roland Fryer for winning the John Bates Clark Award, the most prestigious award given to young economists. As the Robert Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Roland was honored for his pioneering research on the economics of race and education.  Robert Marshall, Distinguished Professor of Economics and head of the Economics Department, served as faculty adviser to Roland.

"Penn State Economics provided me with the foundation for my career,” Roland Fryer said. “In all candor, I do not think there would have been a faculty or program anywhere in the country that would have benefited me more." Click here for the full story.

Associate Dean to head College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State

Congratulations to Chris Long, Associate Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Education, and Professor of Philosophy and Classics! He has been recommended as the new dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University, pending approval by the MSU Board of Trustees. We appreciate his innovative leadership and dedication to our students in the College and throughout the University! The full story is here.

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