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

November 20, 2006

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