According to the Keene State College Profile’s Academic Year of 2011, the most highly declared majors are, at first glance, not liberal arts majors for a public liberal arts college.
The list goes as follows in order of the most highly declared majors: education, health science, safety science, psychology, management, film, English, communications, and art. The majors on this list that are liberal arts majors are psychology, film, English, communications, and art. The other majors are considered professional and/or science majors and are on the top of the list. Since KSC is a public liberal arts college, it came into question how this may affect the school and the students.
“Students need a foundation for an education and Keene State College is a liberal arts education,” Mel Netzhammer, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said.
According to Dr. Nona Feinberg, dean of arts and humanities, Melinda Treadwell, dean of professional and graduate studies, and Netzhammer, all majors incorporate liberal arts into their programs one way or another. When it comes to education majors, students have to double major and that second major has to be a liberal art.
“Every education student is a double major. It’s a very high bar, very high standard to be met,” Feinberg said.
When it comes to other non-liberal arts majors, they are required to take some integrated studies programs that incorporate liberal arts. The ITW courses and the ISP courses that are required of all students have a liberal arts background. The main reason why KSC puts students through liberal arts programs is to give students a broad background in critical thinking, writing, and creative skills. KSC believes that liberal arts integrated into their professional studies makes them more prepared and educated in their fields.
“All of our professional studies programs, those students are liberally educated in their domains. What happens in our programs that folks tend to think of as professional preparation are that we then apply that liberal foundation into problem solving that is relevant to a specific profession. We link that liberal education into a career track, a professional track, so that our students come out of here with the skills we know that matter: working in teams, writing well, and thinking well. They are not just technically trained in a profession, they’re trained in a liberal arts foundation and then they apply that and deepen it through the profession track,” Treadwell said.
“I think that it’s good that Keene State appeals to a variety of students with different interests while keeping the values of a liberal arts college,” freshman Natalie Riddel, who is majoring in nutrition, said.
The KSC mission statement says, “KSC prepares promising students to think critically and creatively, to engage in active citizenship, and to pursue meaningful work. As the public liberal arts college of New Hampshire, we offer an enriching campus community and achieve academic excellence through the integration of teaching, learning, scholarship, and services. Our liberal arts mission dedicates us to the development of knowledge and skills necessary to meet the challenges of our changing world. As a public institution, we provide educational opportunities for all qualified students and continue our heritage of service to New Hampshire and the New England region.”
When it comes to the future, some students tend to change their careers, and according to Treadwell, if a student has a background in liberal arts then he/she can change careers more smoothly. She believes that they will have the skills to be changeable, to adapt. They will have the skills to be nimble when they leave if their professional interests change down the road.
“We are not just preparing people for a job. We are preparing them for a career and for a life in which they will use what they have learned,” Netzhammer said.
Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.