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Forensic Science minor a success

11/08/2010
By:

Ryan Morgan

General Assignment Reporter

Five different departments collaborated to form an interdisciplinary minor for Southern students interested in studying Forensic Science. The Forensic Science minor was created in Fall 2009 and according to Dr. Valerie Andrushko of the Anthropology Department, the program has been a success thus far with 25 students who have officially declared the minor.

Andrushko partially credits student interest to television programs, movies and news stories that grab the viewer’s attention.

“Our minor has been successful because we help students separate facts from fiction and provides them with the tools to critically analyze the material they view and read,” said Andrushko. “It is enormously empowering for students to gain this knowledge and shape their skills of critical analysis.”

The minor is composed of 18 credits from the Anthropology, Psychology, Biology, Sociology and Chemistry. Andrushko said ANT 252: Introduction to Forensic Science, is a great way for students to find out if they are interested in not. Andrushko also said the class is not strictly anthropology, but needed a label to be placed somewhere.

A student doesn’t have to declare the minor to take the course. Students can then choose between seven other classes to fill the remaining 15 credits and an internship is not required. Andrushko said these classes are beneficial for students of all majors because they show students how utilize the scientific method to solve real world problems.

“I think that is helpful for any student because it helps to shape a frame of mind and shape your problem solving skills which is important whether or not you want to be in forensics,” said Andrushko. “This could be helpful for a student who wants to go in to the field of math or statistics or any number of fields because of the way it shapes your problem solving skills.”

For those students who choose to either take classes or officially declare forensic science, there are a variety of benefits they will reap according to Andrushko. The minor trains students for a variety of career opportunities including crime scene technicians, forensic laboratory investigators, forensic anthropologists, and forensic psychologists.

“Students interested in these careers would need to continue with graduate studies, we are giving them a strong foundation from which they can pursue their chosen career goals.”

Building that foundation is the goal of the program. By introducing students to the field, students can then make the decision whether or not to continue their studies.

“This minor provides no certificate or other training that can be immediately used for a job in forensic science,” said Andrushko. “Rather, it is intended to introduce students to the basic issues and methods used in forensic science and to provide a broad-based understanding that students may use in further exploring careers.”

Jayme Rudewicz, a junior anthropology major, said the minor would look really good on a resume if she decides to peruse forensics.

“I think it would definitely open up more options to me in the future,” said Rudewicz.

Students are introduced to forensic techniques and taught how to make and test hypothesizes usually related to an explained death or crime. Andrushko said the data gathered may be used to identify the victim, establish time since death, or provide details about the perpetrator.

In addition, students are studying real-life cases and expected to act as a professional would in applying their own knowledge and problem solving skills to analyze the case.

Andrushko said these problem solving skills are particularly honed at Southern because of the cooperation of each of the five departments involved.

“Students benefit from this interdisciplinary approach and draw connections amount the diverse course offerings to gain a comprehensive introduction to the forensic sciences,” said Andrushko.

If students are considering registering for a course in the forensic science minor, Andrushko urges them to contact her. While there are no immediate requirements, some of the courses may require permission to register or have pre-requisites in other fields of study.

“It’s a real benefit for students to declare the minor but it’s important for students considering it to come see me so I can help them with things like pre-req override and scheduling,” said Andrushko.

While Rudewicz hasn’t yet declared forensic science as her minor, she said she has really enjoyed the classes and plans on taking more.

“I’m obsessed with the class [ANT 322: Forensic Science]. This class made me want to proceed with the minor,” said Rudewicz. “We talk about things that we really wouldn’t talk about in other classes. It’s grotesque CSI stuff that you actually get to do and talk about in the classroom.”

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