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Master’s in Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities approved

The WKU Board of Regents has approved the Master of Arts in Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities, scheduled to begin fall 2011.

The new graduate program will be offered through the Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility within the University College through a partnership with WKU Cohort Programs which allows students to take core coursework together online.

The idea for the new M.A. began more than three years ago, with faculty from various departments crafting the interdisciplinary program. “It’s been a wonderful learning experience to watch our early ideas develop into an actual program that’s already attracting students,” said Dr. Jane Olmsted, director of the Women’s Studies Program and coordinator of the new master’s degree.

Olmsted said it will provide graduate students from diverse backgrounds with the tools to lead communities toward social justice and sustainability. It is designed especially for students inclined toward the humanities, social sciences and related fields. Students will have the opportunity to conduct an action research project to understand relevant community issues and to identify possible solutions.

Leslie Nichols, a Women’s Studies graduate student, was recently awarded a highly competitive career development grant from the American Association of University Women and plans to use it to pursue this new master’s program. She expects to gain a solid foundation to continue her personal and professional goals. “The unique interdisciplinary nature of this degree will give me the knowledge and skills necessary to bring positive social change to my community in my roles as an artist, social advocate and responsible citizen,” said Nichols.

WKU leaders have shown their support for this type of program by making sustainability part of the University’s strategic plan. “We believe that the more students are actively engaged in and by a broad educational experience, the richer their learning will be and the greater their potential to contribute to society in positive ways,” said WKU President Gary Ransdell.

Students within this cohort program will take six core courses and additional electives, with or without a thesis option, for a total of 33 hours. Students will then share their research in a symposium at a sustainability conference.

For information, visit www.wku.edu/cohort/srsc or contact Jane Olmsted at 270-745-5787.

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