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  • Inga Kiderra
  • Lauren Fimbres Wood
  • Kim McDonald

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  • Inga Kiderra
  • Lauren Fimbres Wood
  • Kim McDonald

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New Majors to Help Students Tackle Big Issues

Undergraduates offered hands-on training in data science, business psychology, sustainable development, the ocean and atmosphere

New Majors at UC San Diego

As they learn to plan sustainably for the 21st century and beyond, students in Real Estate and Development will carry out projects in the community and work with professional practitioners. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications.

The University of California San Diego has added four new majors engaged with real-world concerns to address topics ranging from tackling climate change to sustainable development.

Business Psychology, Data Science, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, and Real Estate and Development were established as new majors in response to future demand, workplace trends and alumni feedback.

These majors all take advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of UC San Diego, exposing students to a range of faculty and learning experiences across campus.

The oceanic and atmospheric sciences major applies physics, chemistry and math to develop an understanding of the ocean and atmosphere. Data science combines cognitive science, computer science and engineering, and mathematics to train students in predictive modeling, data analysis and computational techniques. Business psychology melds core business and management knowledge with understanding how the human mind works and how people work together. And the real estate and development major connects real estate finance and development with data visualization and analysis, urban planning and design, sustainability, demographic trends, and new technologies.

Here’s more information on the new majors that just arrived or will be coming soon to UC San Diego:

Business Psychology

The Department of Psychology in the Division of Social Sciences will offer a new degree this coming fall, a B.S. in business psychology, designed to train students to apply psychological principles to the workplace and to organizational challenges and opportunities in an increasingly diverse and international world. The major will offer a combination of training – people skills and statistical analysis in the applied science of solving business problems in an ethical manner.

The new psychology major is the first business psychology degree in the UC system and includes classes offered by the Rady School of Management.

Victor Ferreira, chair of the psychology department, said he has been counseling students for years to add a business minor or an economics major to their psychology studies, especially if they’re interested in pursuing a career directly after college. So when the Rady School approached with the idea, he said, “we jumped at the chance to collaborate on behalf of our students. It’s great to offer our students another practically-oriented option.”

The psychology department is also piloting a novel program in collaboration with the School of Medicine. Funded by alumnus Joseph Edelman, the pilot, which is planned to be launched fully in the 2018-2019 academic year, gives psychology undergraduates the rare opportunity to gain clinical experience in psychiatry.

Data Science

A newly launched major and minor in data science will pull together faculty from throughout campus to prepare students in a variety of disciplines for a careers in which the ability to analyze data is playing an ever more important role—including careers in industry and government, as well as academia.

The undergraduate major and minor are two critical parts of UC San Diego’s new Halicioğlu Data Science Institute, which was dedicated in March. The institute was made possible by a $75 million gift from Taner Halicioğlu, ’96, a computer science alumnus and early Facebook employee, who teaches an undergraduate course in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

new data science majors at uc san diego

The “Data Science in Practice” class taught by cognitive scientist Bradley Voytek drew more than 400 students in Winter 2018. Here, UC San Diego alumnus DJ Patil, the nation’s first Chief Data Scientist, who served in the Obama White House, speaks to the class. Photo courtesy Voytek.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is that we’re going to have a lot of students who will be really helping to shape this field,” said Halicioğlu. “Data science hasn’t really become an actual discipline until recently and I’m really excited that we’re going to be on the forefront of that.”

The goal of both the minor and major is to train a new generation of students who are equally versed in predictive modeling, data analysis and computational techniques.

Students can enter into the major or declare a minor in data sciences from other participating departments. As examples, the minor might include literature majors interested in conducting statistical analyses of digital corpora, psychology majors wishing to conduct large-scale human subject experiments using crowd sourcing, or business and economics students who need to understand computational and statistical methods for analyzing market and customer preference data.

Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences

new oceanic and atmospehric science majors at uc san diego

Undergraduate students in the oceanic and atmospheric sciences major learn how to use a CTD instrument aboard the R/V Robert Gordon Sproul, which measures conductivity, temperature and depth. In the class, Experiences in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, students also do experiential learning on Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, the Scripps Hydraulics Lab, Birch Aquarium and more. Photo by Debbie Meyer.

Offered through Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the new oceanic and atmospheric sciences major debuted in Fall 2017 and covers the physics and chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere. Students will study a range of topics of increasing social concern including ocean waves, natural climate variability, human-caused climate change, ocean acidification, atmospheric phenomena and more.

“One of Scripps’ main strengths is our ability to access the ocean,” said Daniel Rudnick, a physical oceanographer and professor at Scripps who was instrumental in the creation of the major. “This new major is an opportunity for students to be involved with Scripps science, including using data we’re collecting, and by going on cruises or working in labs.”

According to Rudnick, this hands-on major is ideal for students interested in a natural science, with a focus on studying the ocean and atmosphere. Classes students may take include Ice and the Climate System, Physics of the Atmosphere, Ocean Acidification and Experiences in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. And yes, those experiences include trips to the beach and time at sea, including data collection on Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier and an undergraduate student cruise on R/V Robert Gordon Sproul.

Real Estate and Development

A minor in real estate and development started winter quarter, a major (a bachelor of science) begins fall 2018. Offered by the Urban Studies and Planning program in the Division of Social Sciences, Real Estate and Development evolved in consultation with alumni. It is the first undergraduate degree of its kind in the UC system.

Students in the program will learn how to plan efficiently and sustainably for the 21st century and beyond, taking into account transportation patterns, mixed use of land, innovation, equity and social justice, green infrastructure, and more.

“Our real estate and development program takes a truly comprehensive approach to teaching hybrid skills,” said faculty director Mirle Rabinowitz-Bussell. Students will combine skills in economics, real estate finance, physical planning and design, and data visualization and analysis, she said.

Part of what makes the UC San Diego program special, Bussell said, is that students will have ample opportunities not only to carry out projects in the community, but also to interact with and learn from professionals. The majority of the instructors in the program’s core courses are distinguished practitioners.

Real estate and development, Bussell said, is currently collaborating with the Department of Economics and UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management on course offerings, and plans to add more collaborators in future. “Our students will get the best of a liberal arts education and access to all that a major research university has to offer, plus applied, real-world experience working with practitioners doing the work,” said Bussell.

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