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Elevate a Liberal Arts Education as Essential and Relevant to All Majors and Careers

Part of the excitement of working at a university is seeing new programs begin to flourish. In the last five years, many new interdisciplinary degree programs have been added to the Whitworth course catalog, including minors in Latin American studies, environmental studies, and film & visual narrative studies, and majors in art history, bioinformatics, and human-computer interactions. Participation in cross-discipline minors increased, as did participation in area-of-concentration degrees (interdepartmental "build-your-own" majors).

While many people learn about new interdisciplinary degrees in the pages of the course catalog, students, faculty and administrators across campus have partnered and worked together for months to explore and create new programs.

About five years ago, Professor of Math & Computer Science Peter Tucker, '91, noticed that students were interested in a combination of art, design and technology specifically, in how computer science related to user- experience, since larger companies were offering careers for user-experience engineers. The computer science and art departments collaborated to develop a major that fused courses from both departments but that also allowed students to emphasize one side or the other as they saw fit. The human-computer-interaction major was born.

Madeline Cook, '18, was first attracted to the program after learning she could apply her interest in art to a piece of everyday life through interface design and making beautiful, easy-to-use software. "Human-computer interaction is all about making the user want to use your program or application," Cook says. "The combination of art and problem-solving continues to excite me while I'm learning in this major. Getting to combine beauty with fulfilling a need is truly what keeps me going."