United Tribes Technical College to Offer New Baccalaureate Program in Environmental Science

Mar 9th, 2016 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Dennis Neumann

UTTC tribal environmental science student Sean White Mountain testing water quality during a summer research experience for undergraduates. Photo by Jeremy Guinn

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) will offer four new programs in the fall of 2016, including one new bachelor’s degree program in environmental science and research. The Higher Learning Commission has approved the program. The four-year program will be taught at the college’s new Science and Technology Center. The college began conferring bachelor’s degrees in 2011 and currently has four baccalaureate programs.

UTTC planned for the new bachelor’s program by studying the job market for the needs of employers and the interests of potential students. “There are a number of other tribal colleges in the region that offer BS degrees in Environmental Science,” says Lisa Azure, UTTC’s vice president of academic affairs. “The question was whether we could offer something different to be able to recruit students and fulfill needs in the communities we serve.”

The answer came in the form of research. “The faculty and students in our current Environmental Science program are doing research at a level that is rarely found in an associate degree program,” says Azure. “And that’s the unique quality about the UTTC program, and the reason the BS degree at UTTC is referred to ‘Environmental Science and Research.’”

The timeline and schedule of the current environmental science associate degree plan was redesigned in May 2015 to make it more effective for students to finish in two years and “seamlessly enter the BS program,” says Jeremy Guinn, chair of the college’s environmental science program. “Students transferring into the program will find that many of their courses from other North Dakota colleges are common courses that will transfer easily,” he says.

Receiving approval for the environmental science and research bachelor’s degree was a big hurdle. Over the next year comes the challenge of moving students through the transition. Those who graduate in May with an associate’s degree will have a direct path into the bachelor’s program. For transfer-students, the challenge is to assure they have the required courses in the appropriate sequence.

Teaching materials for the upper division courses will be finalized over the summer and into the fall semester as these will be new courses for UTTC. It’s an added workload, but the department’s faculty have been preparing course guides and program reviews for a number of semesters, says Guinn. “The faculty buy-in for the B.S. program really moved this forward,” he explains. “We’re preparing for engaging our students at a new level of learning science concepts. And that’s exciting. We’re strategically building our programs for the future.”

Three other new programs will be offered as two-year, Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees, including human and social services, information processing specialist, and information technology. Human and social services will provide a general education for employment in a variety of social service capacities. The degree plan is designed for graduates who wish to transfer and continue to a baccalaureate degree in social work or a related field. Computer information processing and information technology are updated variations of former degree programs at UTTC. Both are among the top 25 AAS degrees in the country in employment projections and salaries. The additions will bring to 20 the number of programs at the college in Bismarck governed by the five tribes located in North Dakota.


CAPTION: UTTC tribal environmental science student Sean White Mountain testing water quality during a summer research experience for undergraduates. Photo by Jeremy Guinn


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