Georgetown University now offers two new academic options for its students, an Operations and Information Management major in the cDonough School of Business and a Social Justice Analysis concentration in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Supporters of these new programs are looking to show that both will add value to the university and garner significant student demand.

The Operations and Information Management major, approved in 2002, is a faculty-driven incentive that came as a result of studying other business schools around the country. OPIM provides students with a solid foundation in supply chain management and information systems.

Five courses are required for an OPIM major. Courses include Developing and Managing Business Databases, Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Decision Support Systems and three electives from certain specified fields.

There are approximately 25 students who have either officially signed up for the major or who have indicated strong interest, OPIM academic advisor Dr. Betsy Page Sigman said. “This demand will increase, I believe, as publicity about OPIM increases and as students learn of the vast opportunities an OPIM major can open to them,” she said.

Professor Ricardo Ernst of MSB is very excited about the group thus far. “We can have a closer relationship with the students,” he said, “helping them to get jobs and follow through even after graduation.” He stressed the importance of adjusting to the needs of students, faculty and the marketplace, saying a small group of students facilitates the opportunity to learn, refine and improve.

An important issue with the new major is the career opportunities it will provide to graduating students. “My discussions with people in local high-tech and other industries indicate that employers are anxious to find employees with the kinds of skills that an OPIM major will develop,” Sigman said. Some of the areas graduates may pursue include systems design and analysis, database administration, telecommunications and consulting.

According to MSB Professor Keith Ord, this new major will be of great advantage in the workplace in the future.

“The MSB task force noted that the reason for the recommendation was the growth in demand for students with expertise in decision support systems and in IT,” he said. “The well-publicized `dot-com’ crash caused a temporary pause in the growth in such demand, but Bureau of Labor projections show that this area will continue to be a major source of new career opportunities.”

A newly formed OPIM major group, a student organization focused on increasing student awareness as well as the overall campus presence of the major, hopes to establish alumni contacts, internship opportunities and bring in speakers.

“Our initial efforts are centered on the details of fully integrating the major into the curriculum so that students have access to necessary information and other campus services become more knowledgeable of the major’s existence,” Colin Flynn (MSB ’05), head of the group, said.

Sofina Qureshi (MSB ’05), another member of the group, said that while students might be hesitant to try out the major in the beginning, interest should increase once they see the support it is getting from the school and faculty.

Similarly, as of fall 2003, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology will offer a new concentration, Social Justice Analysis. This concentration will be draw on students interested in the theories and analysis of structural inequalities.

“The Social Justice concentration, in a sense, organizes the existing course offerings and community-based experiences into a comprehensive program for the department,” Dr. Joseph Palacios of the Department of Sociology said.

The requirements for the major include Introduction to Sociology; Theory, Methods and Statistics; Social Justice Analysis: Theory and Practice; a Community-based learning elective, one free elective in Sociology or Anthropology and Project D.C.

Community-based learning provides students with a chance to use their academic skills to make a difference and work towards positive social change. “Because of the student’s ongoing community-based research he or she will have had the experience of active participation in civic life and civil society that will have an impact on creating a more just society,” Palacios said.

A new course, Social Justice Analysis: Theory and Practice, is the “gateway” course for this concentration. The department suggests that students take this course as early as possible, optimally in the spring of their sophomore year. This core course “provides a historical and theoretical framework for understanding social justice with a hands-on community-based research experience in DC,” Palacios said.

The Project D.C. course will serve as the capstone experience for students in this concentration. According to the department, it will “enable students to integrate theory and research and apply them to an applied problem – whether at the local, national or international level.” Students will work in collaboration with a nonprofit or community-based organization during both semesters of their senior year.

In the future, this new major will provide students with many positive resources, according to Palacios.

“A student who completes the concentration should be equipped to understand how social justice is conceptualized at a variety of levels and be able to critically assess grassroots programs and organizations, public policy, politics and both private and public institutions that attempt to solve problems of poverty, education, health care, racism and discrimination,” he said. “The concentration fulfills a central mission of Georgetown University as a Catholic and Jesuit university, which is to form students committed to social justice through their education.”

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