UNF Professor provides insight on how to create a new major

Nathan Turoff, Features Editor

Earlier this month, Spinnaker sent out a poll asking students what majors and degrees they wish were offered here at UNF. While the desired majors and degrees were very diverse, there was a lot of total feedback, meaning that there are many programs that many students wish were offered.

Visualization of Poll Results.

Spinnaker reached out to Professor Stephen Stagon, who spearheaded the creation of the new Advanced Manufacturing major, for insight on the process and practicality of creating new majors that students desire.

Stagon expressed how very complicated it is to make a new major, and that it had actually taken him over five years to have it come to fruition. He also explained how the main idea and pressure behind the creation of the new major didn’t come from students directly, but rather employers.

“‘We have a need for this here in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida’ (said the companies), so it was in response to that clear need that we saw demonstrated and that’s what we used to argue the necessity for this major all the way through.”

In terms of the process itself, Stagon explained how it all started with a project proposal, which must be approved by the State first, and then the University.

To create this plan, Stagon compared and used other similar majors in other Colleges and universities as references.

“We create every single course and we talk about what faculty are going to teach these courses.”

Professor Stagon was fairly certain that the influence of the employers helped to get this new major through, but he doesn’t think that corporate pressure is a necessary factor for every new major.

“We have to establish a clear need, and we have to go out and collect some evidence that yeah that the students in Jacksonville and the students in the state of Florida would benefit from this and the greater Florida economy would actually benefit from it, too.

Image via Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez.

For other possible majors, regardless of corporate involvement, Stagon was highly adamant that the first step to getting it through is meeting with professors and others who would have the interest and expertise in what you’re looking into.

“I am almost positive that you can find a faculty Member here that works in something similar to what you’re interested in.”

He believes that Professors are the driving forces behind new programs, and for that reason, any topic of interest has the potential for being a major.

“UNF is the Job School, right?” joked Stagon.

A searchable index of all majors and minors, undergraduate and graduate, can be found here.

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