The apocalypse, SB 23 and the Art of Maiming


Jeremia Schrock / Sun Star Reporter
March 1, 2011

Getting something changed at the university level can be a grind. It took the better part of three years for UAF to institute a film major and now there’s a good chance the program won’t begin accepting students until Fall 2012. Just in time for the apocalypse as foretold by the Mayan calendar.

The new program (approved by the Board of Regents on Feb. 18) still needs to be developed, then reviewed and approved the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the body responsible for accrediting the colleges in the UA system. For Chancellor Rogers, the major “is an example of how we can respond to a specific workforce need and focus an existing program to better serve our students.” The state and the university are making a concerted effort to help diversify Alaska’s economy by investing in cinema. Just look at SB 23, which, if it passes the State Legislature, will extend the state’s current film tax credit program for an additional 10 years, to 2023.

Before the regents’ decision to move forward with the new major, no infrastructure existed to help Alaskans develop their cinematic muscles. With that in mind, I asked around campus to see what other programs and classes students would like to see added – or cut. The list was intriguing and, at times, brilliant, funny and surprising.

In the perfect world of those polled, UAF would expand its foreign languages department to allow undergraduate degrees in Chinese and Arabic. Currently, UAF offers two elementary and two intermediate classes in Chinese and two introductory Arabic classes taught “as demand warrants.” In addition to languages, liberal arts students would like to see expansions in justice (to a doctorate), sociology (to a master’s) and women and gender studies (to a bachelor’s).

In the sciences, students would like web development classes become a part of the computer sciences program. They’d also like to declare themselves majors in botany and paleontology. Speaking of paleontology, UAF already has the world’s foremost collection of polar dinosaurs and some excellent faculty members (Patrick Druckenmiller and Sarah Fowell among them) at its disposal. If there is one thing almost everybody living in a post “Jurassic Park” America loves to read about and see, it’s dinosaurs. If there was ever a way to attract people to the sciences at UAF (and to inspire charitable contributions to the university) it’s to make everything UAF does just a little more about dinosaurs.

While there are plenty of courses and programs people want to see added, there are several that students wish to see axed. As far as programs go, the first that would be given over to the guillotine is communications. Several people who answered the survey felt that while communications is important, it doesn’t warrant its own program. Another program that inspired similar feelings was (and it hurts me to write because it’s my own minor) philosophy. Respondents felt that philosophy lacks practical value.

Two classes that were met with equal disdain were Library Science 100X and Art/Mus/Theater 200X. On the flip side, two students were more then ready to begin taking Underwater Basket Weaving 100X and the Art of Maiming 201. I have a pretty good feeling that those classes would be both lucrative for the university, as well as totally awesome.

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