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March 30, 2007

ULM has a new, old major

On March 8, the University of Louisiana Board of Regents approved a historic name change for one of ULM’s oldest departments.

The Department of Government, which had been housed with the Department of History, will now be called Political Science and be housed with Gerontology and Sociology.

Provost Stephen Richters, in his supporting letter stated, “The use of ‘Political Science’ rather than ‘Government’ is the most common practice in higher education - it is identified more with social sciences than with humanities, which utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods.”

Although such a change seems only cosmetic, John W. Sutherlin, assistant professor of political science felt this was long overdue and essential. “Whether in recruiting a new professor or students, the designation of political science is critical.”

Most of the programs that call themselves government are mostly theoretical or political philosophy focused. Political science programs include an emphasis on data analysis and statistical modeling. This would include research on matters wholly outside the realm of government.

Sutherlin noted, “Some of the most significant work in international relations, a sub-set of political science, centers on non-governmental organizations, transnational governance structures or the functions of regimes. None of these fall under the auspices of a government program of study.”

Current Student Government Association President Rob Carroll added, “During the fall semester when I was applying to graduate schools, I had to explain that government and political science were essentially the same major. This became an obstacle in being admitted to several programs.”

The College of Arts and Sciences also announced the new name of the Speech Communication degree. Communication Studies "more accurately reflects the breadth and depth of the field," said Turner Steckline, interim department head of Communication.

"The areas of concentration in Mass Communication remain the same: Public Relations, Broadcast Management, Journalism, and Media Production. Communication Studies majors have a slighter smaller core of classes they have to take, as their electives open up to include more Mass Communication classes."

Both name changes are effective in the 2007-2008 Catalogue.

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