For the general studies program the UA is now offering in the northern sector of metro Phoenix, the concentrations offered are:
- Arts, media and entertainment: Students will develop skills in the criticism and evaluation of art forms, an understanding of the processes by which art and creativity are communicated, and a knowledge of promotion and marketing in the arts.
- Global and intercultural understanding: Courses focus on understanding the customs, cultures, practices, contributions and struggles of people around the world.
- Social behavior and human understanding: Students will learn about differences and similarities among individuals in different economic, political, religious, cultural, ethnic and social groups, exploring the basic social systems and interactions of individuals and societies.
- Study of the U.S. and the American experience: Students will explore the diversity of experiences and perspectives that have contributed to the culture and society of today's United States.
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Continuing to expand its presence into Phoenix, the University of Arizona has introduced a new degree-completion program in collaboration with the Maricopa County Community College District.
Beginning in the spring, and mirrored after its main-campus counterpart, a bachelor's degree in general studies will be offered on site at Paradise Valley Community College, representing an important extension of the UA into the northern sector of metro Phoenix.
"The North Valley is an attractive growth area in Phoenix," said Kimberly Jones, the associate dean for the College of Humanities. The region encompasses cities such as Scottsdale, Glendale, Fountain Hills, Cave Creek and Peoria, as well as Phoenix.
"Offering this program will help us to increase our visibility and make a UA degree more accessible to Phoenix-area students," Jones said.
The new degree joins programs offered by the UA Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy Education and also the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the Eller College of Management, which are among the main-campus colleges to have introduced academic programs in the Phoenix area.
Progression of the new degree program was driven by Never Settle, the UA's strategic plan, which calls for the University to enhance its partnerships with community colleges to improve higher-education access and address shortages in the workforce.
The program's launch also aligns with the Arizona Board of Regents' 2020 vision for expanding statewide access to baccalaureate degrees and is responsive to student demand in the Phoenix area.
"One of the things students often tell us is that they really want a UA degree, but they are unable to move to Tucson," said Kasey Urquidez, the UA's vice president of enrollment management and student affairs advancement and dean of undergraduate admissions.
Although classes will be held at Paradise Valley's campus, any student in the Phoenix area who has earned an associate's degree or equivalent is eligible to apply for the program.
"We have a very dedicated focus to make sure that we are reaching students and sharing options," said Urquidez, who noted that the UA has multiple counselors who are responsible for recruiting in the Phoenix area. "We know from all the time we spend in Maricopa County that there are students who want a UA degree, but they may have roots set there, or find it hard to leave."
For the general studies program, about 10 students are expected for the soft launch in the spring. The program will launch officially during the fall semester of 2015. Victoria Meyer, an assistant professor in the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science, has been named director of the program. Also involved are Phoenix-area instructor and musician Scott Zimmer and Reno Lauro, an instructor and professional in media and film studies.
The program will be offered with four multidisciplinary concentrations: arts, media and entertainment; global and intercultural understanding; social behavior and human understanding; and the study of the U.S. and the American experience.
"Students will learn how to use different disciplines, methodologies and perspectives to address different problems, developing critical thinking and skills for analysis that they can use in a wide variety of career paths," Jones said.
The general studies program was launched on the main campus four years ago and, with its seven concentration areas, now has 875 students enrolled, said Leticia Soto-Delgadillo, director of the academic advising center for the director of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science.
"The degree is multidisciplinary in nature, and flexible enough that we felt it would work with the student population in Phoenix," Soto-Delgadillo said. "We believe it will solve the problem for students who want skills in effective writing, research, problem solving and other skills, but may want to think through these problems in different ways. We believe that many industries will welcome graduates with such a degree."
Paul Dale, the president of Paradise Valley Community College, recently interviewed Meyer about the new offering: