New Economics Major Adds to UC Merced’s Bank of Programs

MERCED - Economics, the foundation of any good business and management education, has been approved as a new major at the University of California, Merced.

As of now, students can officially declare themselves economics majors.

"You can do anything with an economics degree," said Professor Todd Neumann, who joined UC Merced this fall. "It's a great preparation for government and public policy, and all kinds of jobs in the private sector. It's perfect preparation for law school, because it teaches that methodical, logical thinking that you need."

Neumann and his fellow professors, Shawn Kantor, Katie Winder and Alexander Whalley, have been working to develop the economics program. Neumann said that like all of UC Merced's majors, this one is interdisciplinary, overlapping with management, political science, cognitive science and even history.

New majors must be approved by the UC Merced Faculty Senate before they become available to students. Economics' approval is just the first of several OKs expected in coming weeks. History, literature and political science are also on track to become official majors soon.

UC Merced's interdisciplinary approach brings a fresh take to some of the most popular majors students want to pursue.

"There are links everywhere," said Hans Björnsson, interim dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. "There's a true collaboration within the university. For example, literature has a strong connection to history, and economics partners with engineering."

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts is one of three schools within the university. The other two are Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Björnsson said new majors come about as the faculty roster grows and there are enough professors to devise and implement the programs. Among this year's new faculty: Stephen Nicholson, whose interests are in American politics, voting behavior, public opinion, political psychology and direct democracy; Alexander Whalley, who studies the economics of labor markets; and Thomas Hansford, who researches judicial politics, interactions between the Supreme Court and Congress and interpretation of precedent at the Supreme Court.

UC Merced opened in fall 2005 with nine majors. As of fall 2006, the campus offered 15. After the economics major, three more new majors and one new minor, anthropology, are in various stages of the approval process and are expected to launch by fall 2007, making at least 19 majors and 11 minors. Björnsson also said an American studies program is in the works, but is just in its beginning stages.

"This is the natural evolution of the school," he said.

Majors as of November 2006:
Computer science and engineering
Environmental engineering
Materials sciences and engineering
Mechanical engineering
Applied mathematical sciences
Biological sciences
Chemical sciences
Earth systems science
Cognitive science
Social and cognitive sciences
World cultures and history

Minors as of November 2006:
American studies
Cognitive science
Services science

For more information related to undergraduate majors, view the Academicspage.

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