Writer: Jerrica DuBois
2 min read July 2022 — University of Cincinnati is implementing innovative new programs of study and initiatives to support students, some of which being the first of their kind, in an effort to keep up with an evolving economy and education landscape.
UC recently announced it will offer the nation’s opens in a new windowfirst online childhood education degree with a focus on nature-based learning. One of the aims of the new program is to teach prospective educators how to help their students build environmental knowledge and provide those lessons in settings that are nature based.
The university’s existing early childhood education curriculum emphasizes play-based approaches to learning, support of children’s development across all domains, the design of high-quality learning environments and inclusive practices. The new offering will align with these current focal points as it adapts to the trend of outdoor and nature-based early childhood programs.
According to the opens in a new windowNorth American Association for Environmental Education, the number of nature-based preschools, forest kindergartens and outdoor preschools in the U.S. has more than doubled in recent years.
Also new to the university’s offerings will be a opens in a new windowbachelor of science degree in statistics, as well as a minor in statistics, beginning in the fall semester of 2022. Offered through UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, the new programs will provide knowledge and skills that are applicable to both the public and private sector.
“With the growing importance of big data, statistics and data analytics skills are required in almost every field where data are turned into insights and used to inform decision-making,” said Michael Goldberg, UC professor and head of mathematical sciences, in a opens in a new windowstatement.
Data science has seen a huge boom as a career option in the U.S. job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 33% growth in the field of statistics from 2020 to 2030. According to opens in a new windowU.S. News and World Report, data scientist places sixth and statistician comes in eighth in its overall ranking of best jobs. Statistician also ranked third for best business jobs.
The University of Cincinnati is also initiating new programs and initiatives to make sure education is accessible and students have the support they need. opens in a new windowPathway to Undergraduate Research for First Generation College Students, the brainchild of associate professor of chemistry Ryan White, launched during the 2021-22 academic year. During the first year of the program, participants conduct research in the university labs and receive stipends. In the second year, the students in the program conduct research for class credit to satisfy their requirements. White is also hopeful that as new first-generation students enter the program, current participants can get involved as mentors.
In his funding proposal for the program, White noted there is a gap in participation in research and science regarding first-generation students. On top of starting college and acclimating to a new environment, first-generation college students may face additional challenges including lack of support from family and peers, college preparedness, racial disparity and financial stability.
As funding continues, White is hopeful to not only continue the program but expand it. “The main goal here is integrating first-gen students in our research culture at UC early, to help build a community of researchers who support each other,” White said. “The key here is interaction with other students and faculty, both of which help improve retention and the overall college experience.”