The University of Oregon senate confirmed a new neuroscience Bachelor’s degree in the College of Arts and Sciences at its Nov. 13 meeting. After tediously mapping out the course list, counting credits needed and estimating student impact, UO professors Philip Washbourne, Nicole Dudukovic Kuhl, and Adrianne Huxtable solidified a new a major might be coming to the UO.
UO is one of the top 34 public research universities in the nation, and is a member of AAU, according to UO's research college statement.
The creation of the new neuroscience major has been in the works for the past year now, Washbourne said. All three creators stem from different but applicable fields through the College of Art and Science. Washbourne works in biology, Kuhl in Psychology and Huxable in Human Physiology.
“It was a lot of work, but it was kind of enjoyable,” said Washbourne. “The way we tackled this was to think 'what kind of courses would the incoming students have been taught to then come in and hit the ground running?' It was like being in a candy store.”
Neuroscience is defined as a life science that “deals with the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, or molecular biology of nerves and nervous tissue and especially with their relation to behavior and learning,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
The major will require a minimum of 96 credits, and will be offered through lab work as well as lecture. According to the proposal, this opportunity hopes to “recruit talented undergraduate students to the University of Oregon and offer an additional undergraduate major for students interested in careers in research, medicine or other health professions.”
The new proposal will be evaluated by the Undergraduate Council, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to approve the new Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience before being offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. The major will be split into three distinct branches of Psychology, Human Physiology and Biology.
“It's been something that's been coming up a lot now–a lot of graduates in biology and human phys[iology] would actually like to major in neuroscience,” Washbourne said. “The idea is that a lot of folks that are already here would just switch to neuroscience. And, it would probably attract new enrollment for students.”
Monetarily, Washbourne said that the implementation of the major should be cost efficient, and would only require a new director to be hired. No other classes will need to be added in order to create a path in neuroscience.
“I think neuroscience has gone through a pretty big transition in the past five years,” said Washbourne. “The techniques that are used have just blossomed. What setting this major now is giving someone the tools to be able to use big data. That’s just going to be the future.”