Student demand and resources available in D.C. led GW to add biomedical engineering and biological anthropology as majors, GW officials said. The majors are open to students in any school.
“These majors are cross department disciplines . collaboration of different departments, ” said Don Lehman, vice president for Academic Affairs. “The engineering department and the anthropology department were the key players in these proposals.”
Lehman said the cost of adding the two majors is “minor,” because the course structure is already in place. He said the brunt of the cost involves adding research materials for the subject at the library. Lehman said he does not know the exact cost of these additions.
While five students currently major in biological anthropology, which was first offered this semester, professors anticipate more students to declare the new major in the future.
“Many students find new interests in this area due to the fact that now the introductory class to biological anthropology is included in the General Course Requirements list for laboratory sciences,” said Gail Krovitz, an assistant professor and academic adviser for the major.
Biological anthropology deals with human as an organism and studies the evolution of man and geographical variations. It also examines individual development and human constitution.
Krovitz said GW is nationally known for strong biological anthropology courses because of its close ties with local organizations and resources. Some courses are taught by specialists from the Smithsonian’s Natural Science Museum, she said.
“(D.C.) is a very strong place to study biological anthropology,” Krovitz said. “It was kind of a natural choice for GW to add this program.”
Biomedical engineering applies engineering techniques to biology and medicine. Biomedical engineers design medical devices such as MRIs, cardiac pacemakers and artificial organs.
While GW has offered biomedical engineering to graduate students for the past 30 years, next fall will be the first time undergraduates will be able to major in the program.
Engineering professor Zhenyu Guo said the school added the major because of the growing job market for the field and high student demand.
Guo noted GW’s long tradition with the field, numerous research projects conducted by the engineering department and the proximity of the medical school to the engineering school.
“Over 100 universities have a (biomedical engineering) program, but GW will be among the few that have both (medical and engineering schools) for students to utilize,” Guo said.
Guo said he expects 50 to 100 students to declare the major next fall.
“The more they enhance the biology field the better, because it allows someone to focus specifically on what they want to do,” said Brian Juenyst, a freshman majoring in biology. “Students can narrow in on it and be prepared by focusing on their career.”
“I would take the program,” he added.
Fumiko Kinoshiea, a senior majoring in international affairs, said she is pleased that the University added the two majors, saying they could help GW’s reputation.
“It’s becoming very important in society . it’s cutting edge. This may bring better students to GW,” she said.
Freshman Joshua Patriquin agreed, saying that technological advancements in a university help students land jobs.
Lehman said the University has received many inquiries by current and prospective GW students about the two programs and has high expectations for the major.
“These new programs are a sort of recognition of inter-disciplinary education here at GW,” he said.