New Graduate Specializations Promote Interdisciplinary Study

When it comes to preparing graduate students for their future careers, being forward-thinking is the name of the game. That’s why the UO Graduate School added four new graduate specializations this past year. The move came after inviting graduate students to identify potential areas of expertise that could be added to their degree programs. Specifically, specializations represent a group of approved courses, totaling at least 16 credits. Completion of a specialization is reflected on the final transcript, demonstrating the interdisciplinary breadth or disciplinary depth of the student’s work in a particular area. Specializations in the following areas are now officially part of the curricula.

FOOD STUDIES

Food studies is “an interdisciplinary approach to understanding food’s place in our world,” says Associate Professor Stephen Wooten, one of the creators of the food studies initiative along with Adjunct Instructor Jennifer Levin. “Food is at the center of inquiry, and the study looks at how food mediates all the different realms.”

Hosted by the Environmental Studies Program, the specialization was made available to graduate students in any discipline beginning in fall 2013. The specialization is not a degree but a means for graduate students to indicate food studies as an area of expertise. Its creators are hoping to design a minor for undergraduate students in the future and ultimately aim to make food studies its own program at UO.
 
Food studies is an up-and-coming field across the country, with notable programs at New York, Boston, and Indiana Universities, among others. The UO program will distinguish itself by focusing on food studies in the context of the unique Northwest climate.
 
“I think they’re the future of education, these cross-discipline projects,” Levin says. “There’s so much promise in terms of interdisciplinary education and connecting students with what they put in their mouths.”
 
Neuroscience
 
The specialization in neuroscience is anchored in the biology and psychology departments. It establishes a common curriculum across the neurosciences in biology and psychology.
 
Sustainable Business Practices
 
A graduate specialization in sustainable business practices in the Lundquist College of Business includes course work in sustainable business development, supply chain operations, principles of industrial ecology, project operations management, and life-cycle analysis.
 
Prevention Science
 
The prevention science specialization is offered to master's students in counseling, family, and human services. Students take graduate courses alongside doctoral students in counseling psychology and master's students in couples and family therapy, completing both the MEd and the specialization in prevention science in one academic year.