Kent State’s School of Digital Sciences Records Remarkable Growth in First Year
In the fall of 2010, a team of people from five different Kent State colleges sat down to design the digital sciences degree program. Launching a program in one year is uncommon, but when approvals for the proposed programs happened in the spring of 2011, Kent State’s School of Digital Sciences set a new bar.
Both an interdisciplinary school and an independent school, the School of Digital Sciences offers unique program options.
Robert A. Walker, director of the School of Digital Sciences, says the idea is to expose students to a broad range of technologies often from multiple points of view.
“For example, students often come in from high school and say they want to do something with Web pages,” Walker says. “We have two courses; one course focuses on the content side of a Web page, taught for us by a professor from the journalism school. The other course is taught by the Department of Management and Information Systems — it’s a coding class. Both deal with Web development, but from different points of view.”
Walker says because the school is interdisciplinary, it doesn’t have permanent faculty but draws faculty from all the other colleges. Students will encounter faculty from all over campus including architecture, business, computer science, education, journalism and philosophy.
“The setup of this program is very beneficial because you encounter multiple things from different points of view,” Walker says.
Walker says as students go forward, they work with different types of people. They can see what fits them best and can specialize further in a specific area. The bachelor’s program offers six different concentrations.
The new program is a learning process for all involved, and the growth has exceeded expectations.
“We’re all getting a better feel for all of the degrees and figuring out where to place students,” Walker says. “We’re all learning how to direct students down the path that best fits their needs.”
Last fall, the program had approximately 12 students. This year, the program has close to 100 students — roughly 70 undergraduates and 28 graduates.
“We’re entering our second year, and these are roughly the numbers we expected to have at the middle of our third year,” Walker notes. “We are growing much quicker than anticipated.”
Walker says that to combat the rapid growth, the school is adding sections more rapidly and getting faculty involved more quickly.
“Of the admitted students universitywide, about one-third of students actually come to the Kent Campus,” Walker says. “But about one-half of our admitted students came here [to the School of Digital Sciences].
After all, there’s nothing like this anywhere else.”
Walker adds that the gender diversity in the program is another high point.
“The gender diversity in this program is roughly 30 percent female,” Walker says. “Coming out of the computer science area, where gender diversity is maybe 10 or 15 percent female, I think this is great.”