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ECSU trustees OK two new programs

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Elizabeth City State University officials have approved two new curriculum programs, one focused on helping students learn about the challenges of global security, the other helping students prepare for careers in the burgeoning green energy field.

The ECSU Board of Trustees gave both the homeland security and sustainability studies programs the green light on Tuesday, a key step in launching a new curriculum at the university. To take effect, the two programs still must be approved by the University of North Carolina System and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

ECSU Provost Vann Newkirk told trustees’ Academic and Enrollment Services Committee on Tuesday that the homeland security degree will prepare students for careers in homeland security, national security and intelligence. The curriculum is an especially good fit for ECSU because of the university’s proximity to Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City and its working relationship with the Coast Guard, according to Newkirk.

Homeland security would be ECSU’s second degree available entirely online. The first is interdisciplinary studies.

Because of the online format, students could pursue the homeland security degree from anywhere in the world where they could connect to the internet. That will be particularly important for Coast Guard personnel and other members of the military who might be interested in the degree and who would be subject to being moved far away from the physical campus, Newkirk explained.

Students in the homeland security program will learn about the role of intelligence and the impact of policy in securing the country from domestic and international threats and natural disasters, Newkirk said. The program is designed to provide students a broad understanding of global political, security and economic challenges and the role of domestic and international governments.

The program is tailored to the military, especially the Coast Guard, and is a niche program that should serve the university well, according to Newkirk. Fall 2019 is probably the earliest the program could be offered, he added.

Newkirk said ECSU already has the faculty necessary to offer the program so no investment in additional faculty would be needed.

ECSU also has the faculty needed for the other new curriculum the trustees approved Tuesday: a bachelor of science program in sustainability studies. Newkirk said the degree would prepare students for jobs in the “green job market” such as renewable energy and would be the only four-year program of its kind in northeastern North Carolina.

The region has a growing presence of solar farms and wind turbines, Newkirk said.

The program in sustainability studies will enable ECSU to position itself “far ahead of the pack” in preparing students for jobs in the growing field of green energy, Newkirk said.

Trustee Harold Barnes asked whether “green energy” might be a better, more readily recognizable name for the curriculum than “sustainability studies.”

But Newkirk said “sustainability studies” is the nomenclature that’s being used elsewhere. A similar degree at Appalachian State University is known as “sustainable technology.”

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