Ursinus to Graduate its First Educational Studies Majors

This year, eight students will walk across the commencement stage as part of the class of 2019 and receive their undergraduate degrees in educational studies, the first cohort of students to do so since the new major was announced in 2017.

The students are: Samantha Donato ’19, Sophie Gioffre ’19, Sarah Howell ’19, Samuel Pope ’19, Kayla Quinn ’19, Andrew Roesch ’19, Alexandra Senger ’19 and Joanna Timmerman ’19. They were recognized during a special event in the Bears Den in Upper Wismer on April 30.

The educational studies major is an interdisciplinary program that brings a rigorous, liberal arts approach to the study of education. Drawing from existing courses and new ones, the major is an extension of the education minor and emerged in response to repeated student requests to study education in more depth. Students can take courses in such areas as educational psychology, educational theories and philosophies, educational inequality, reform movements, and cultural issues related to education. This year’s graduates pursued capstone research on topics from sex education curricula to Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education.

“It gives them a broad understanding of the wide range of things there are to think about in education, be that in schools, museums, religious institutions, in camps, or even in parenthood,” said Stephanie Mackler, an associate professor of education and assistant dean of the college. “It helps them think deeply about the role of education in human life and understand education in America and the rest of the world.”

Timmerman shared her appreciation for the flexibility of the major and how it has helped her adapt her studies to her career interests.

“I want to work in higher education, which isn’t necessarily a focus of the program itself, but I have a lot of flexibility to work on different projects that interest me within the scope of education. Being able to work so closely with faculty and the other students has been so beneficial,” she said.

Pope was in the process of crafting his own self-initiated major when it became clear that everything he was looking for in an area of study—including ethics, biomedical ethics and politics, three topics that especially interested him—could be realized in educational studies.

“Educational studies has so many different facets, and by the time I started solidifying an idea for my major, I found this perfect fit,” he said.

The new major consists of 36 credits and is designed for students interested in higher education, education policy, school counseling and careers in a variety of educational organizations. Students pursuing teacher-certification at Ursinus can also earn the major by taking an additional two classes beyond the certification requirements. This year, Howell is the first to earn the major and complete requirements for teacher certification in English.

Currently, 31 students are enrolled as educational studies majors and the discipline continues to grow. —By Mary Lobo ’15