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College of Humanities and Sciences Unit Descriptions
Updated February 2019
Faculty are welcome to use these descriptions as a starting point when providing information about their unit in a grant proposal. Please delete and add information as needed.
The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture (Robertson School), housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, was founded in 1978 and is one of the largest units in the College. Provisional accreditation has been awarded by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to major in Advertising, Journalism, or Public Relations or minor in Media Studies. Internships are an integral component of the curriculum and students have the opportunity to participate in an award winning, student-produced TV news show; a mobile news room focused on political news coverage; student-staffed news service; and a student-led public relations agency.
Students graduate ready to pursue employment or graduate studies. Since 2011, the Robertson School has awarded just under 1,700 Bachelor’s degrees. The Robertson School also offers master programs in Strategic Public Relations and Multimedia Journalism, which include small cohorts of only 15 students, allowing for a personal and engaging educational experience. Undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to learn from seven faculty members specializing in advertising, nine devoted to journalism, and five concentrating in public relations, offering a robust collection of knowledge and experience. Faculty are actively engaged in research and scholarship activities spanning a variety of topics including international, environmental, and health communication; social media and health; big data and public relations; and constructive journalism, among many others.
The Virginia Commonwealth University School of World Studies, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, is a vibrant community of faculty, students, and practicing scholars actively creating synergies that promote innovative, interdisciplinary ideas. The School of World Studies provides undergraduate students with the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for success in a globalized world. The School encompasses disciplines which define what it means to be human - our ability to communicate (world languages), to build communities with distinct cultural practices (anthropology), to understand and interact with people/ideas different from our own (international studies), and to explore our place in the cosmos (religious studies).
The School of World Studies includes the World Studies Media Center dedicated to promoting the study of foreign languages through use of media and instructional technology. The aim of the Center is to enhance the integration and implementation of instructional media, international film, new learning technologies, and innovative online self-study applications. Instruction is offered by almost 90 faculty members. Anthropology faculty are engaged in sponsored research across several continents with a variety of focus areas.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of African American Studies, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, originated from an Afro-American Studies Committee started in 1967 and grew to a stand-alone major in 2003. VCU is the second school in Virginia to offer a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in African American Studies and the department is one of the largest undergraduate departments in African American Studies on the East Coast. The B.A. in African American Studies is an interdisciplinary degree that provides students with knowledge of human cultures and intellectual and practical skills to engage complexity, diversity, and change. The degree program fosters students’ personal and social responsibility and, through applied learning experiences, empowers students to negotiate and to solve the complex problems of the 21st century. Over 50 students have graduated from the program.
The department has one of the highest amounts of grant funds per capita in the College. Research is conducted in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Tobacco, a partnership between VCU Departments of Psychology and African American Studies, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The overarching goal of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products is to demonstrate empirically an integrated, iterative modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) evaluation model that uses analytical lab, human lab, randomized clinical trial, and quantitative and qualitative methods to inform tobacco product regulation across all product types. The department is also spearheading the study Cashless or Cashlite, which examines the impact of the 2013 currency redenomination of the Zambian national currency the Kwacha on Mobile Money use in Lusaka, Zambia. African American Studies has seven faculty and 24 affiliate research faculty from across the college and university.
The Department of Biology, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers a Bachelor and Master of Science in Biology, delivering an innovative curriculum seamlessly integrated with research and with emphasis in the areas of Cell Regulation, Evolution, and Ecological Processes and Applications. The faculty work to engage and enlighten the community, to provide students in all disciplines with a solid foundation in the biological sciences, and to prepare graduate and undergraduate students for advanced academic study, admission to health programs, employment in laboratory and field programs, jobs in private industry, positions with government agencies, and teaching in secondary schools.
Faculty and students in the Department of Biology conduct fundamental research in the fields of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. Research interests include craniofacial and neuro development, membrane biology, molecular immunology, microbiome studies, plant development, and cancer biology. This diversity in research interests fosters a highly collaborative environment where students and faculty interact across disciplines to understand the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate critical biological processes. VCU biologists are committed to providing a rich research environment. The department houses state-of-the-art microscopes, next-gen sequencers, and utilizes a broad range of model systems including mouse, frogs, zebrafish, yeast, flowering plants and human derived cell lines. The department’s location within the VCU community also presents an ideal environment for students and faculty to collaborate with others outside of the department, including the VCU Heath and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, among others. The Department of Biology strives to provide an inclusive environment, where diversity is prized, and a culture of acceptance is a fundamental element of departmental philosophy.
Faculty and students in the Department of Biology also conduct research in diverse areas of ecology and evolution that address basic and applied questions. Major research efforts include regional studies of vegetation dynamics on Virginia’s barrier islands, water quality of Atlantic coastal rivers and estuaries, and tidal wetland responses to sea level rise. Research activities involve national and international efforts addressing climate change and north temperate forests, long-term studies of neo-tropical migratory birds, and investigations of harmful algal blooms in the Baltic Sea. Research efforts in evolutionary biology and systematics include co-evolution, plant-animal interactions, comparative morphology and anatomy, speciation, phylogenetics, and biogeography. In addition to state-of-the art facilities housed in the Trani Center for Life Sciences, faculty and students have access to an array of diverse ecosystems located at the VCU Rice Rivers Center. The Rice Center, located 45 minutes from campus, includes frontage on the James River, a 20-hectare restored wetland, and mixed temperate forests.
Student and faculty research is supported by government and private agencies, including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Network, Virginia Sea Grant, and the Virginia Natural Heritage Program. The department is supported by over sixty faculty and staff members.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Chemistry, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, is ranked among the top 20 nationally recognized Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry. Currently, the department has approximately 60 graduate students (Master and PhD) and nearly 500 undergraduate students supported by 40 faculty, 18 of which are tenured or tenure-eligible. Research, in addition to excellence in teaching, is a major focus for the department with approximately $3 million awarded annually in research and educational grants. Both undergraduate and graduates students are supported in the pursuit of their own interests within the field of chemistry through close interaction with the faculty.
Notably, faculty members have received training and experience at leading universities, industrial laboratories, and national research laboratories. Disciplines include analytical, biological/biophysical, chemical physics, inorganic, materials/nanoscience, organic, and physical research. The Department has state-of-the-art instrumentation which is used by graduate and undergraduate students in courses and research. Highlights include an NMR facility with 300, 400, and 600 MHz instruments, a mass spectrometry facility with modern Orbitrap and time-of-flight instruments, and access to a world-class surface characterization facility. Weekly seminars are held with distinguished speakers from academia and industry. Students meet with the speakers to discuss research and other topics, such as guidance for a successful career.
The Department of English within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, and a PhD in Media, Art, and Text, designed to break down walls between disciplines to expand research possibilities available to students and allow them to fashion new intellectual arenas for the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Since the department’s inception, efforts have been made to remain responsive to the needs and interests of students, and to expose them to new opportunities, including a study abroad program, reading series (Moveable Feast), Visiting Writers Series, Distinguished Writers Series, a multimedia journal (Blackbird), and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.
The department’s faculty publish to national and international acclaim and have been honored with regional, national, and international awards. The department has hosted academic conferences as varied as the Victorians Institute, the Southeastern Renaissance Society, and the African Literature Association. Faculty is known for serving as editors for a number of prominent publications as diverse as Stand Magazine, Victorians Institute Journal, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, The Comparatist, and Broad Street. Faculty specializations include 18th century, 19th century, 20th/21st century, early modern, and medieval literature, and composition linguistics, creative writing, literatures of diversity, and film, new media, and theory. The department includes over 100 faculty and staff members.
The Department of Forensic Science, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) provides students with a solid, well-rounded education preparing them for effective professional careers in public and private forensic laboratories, basic research laboratories, and clinical laboratories. The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science at VCU is a unique program that recognizes a solid science background, followed by strengthening of earned knowledge through hands-on experience, are the keys to a successful forensic science career. The undergraduate program in Forensic Science has been accredited by FEPAC (Forensic Science Educational Programs Accreditation Commission) since 2005, and boasts approximately 400 undergraduate majors between the Forensic Biology, Forensic Chemistry, and Physical Evidence concentrations, all of which are FEPAC accredited.
The Master of Science in Forensic Science program is designed to prepare students for careers as forensic scientists in government and private laboratories. Students receive in-depth exposure to specializations within the field, including drug analysis, DNA analysis, trace evidence, criminalistics, and legal issues. A strong emphasis on laboratory courses provides students with significant hands-on experience prior to graduation. Several of the required lab courses are taught at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science Lab, which is nationally accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. The MS in Forensic Science program has been granting degrees since 1978, and is also fully accredited by FEPAC. The typical entering class is 18 to 20 students with chosen specialties that span the program's offerings. Fifteen faculty support the department. Many are actively engaged in research and have received funding from the National Institute of Justice.
The Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS) within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), offers a major and a minor for undergraduate students, and a graduate certificate program. Undergraduate students majoring in GSWS have the opportunity to choose between two interdisciplinary concentrations, general and health and science. All programs are designed to provide students with a solid academic base for graduate studies and the credentials necessary for careers in the private or non-profit sector. GSWS draws upon the theories, skills, pedagogy and perspectives of the humanities, social/behavioral sciences, life/physical sciences, and the arts. In 2007, the International Experiences Scholarship was established by the Sledd Family Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia. The purpose of the scholarships is to provide VCU GSWS students with demonstrated financial need the opportunity to study abroad for academic credit as part of either a summer or semester study abroad or other international or global activist experience where academic credit is earned. Instruction is offered by nine faculty members.
The Department of History, within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), is home to two dozen talented teachers and scholars who offer diverse courses on the human making of our world. VCU History majors investigate the past across boundaries of time and place, and apply their knowledge and skills in capstone courses. The History M. A. program engages graduate students through analysis of development across time and directs them into independent research and writing. The department’s three student organizations, the Alexandrian Society, History Now!, and the History Graduate Student Association, provide opportunities for leadership as well as fellowship. Richmond and central Virginia boast a plethora of public history institutions, where students gain practical experience through internships for academic credit.
Students have the opportunity to study aboard in Barbados during the Crop Over Festival, which celebrates African cultural transitions through music and dance. The department offers two American Study Programs as part of a Global Outreach initiative where students from China and India participate in lectures from university professors and take tours of local cultural and heritage sites. In 2018, the department added a graduate Certificate in Public History that draws on faculty expertise and the wealth of historical resources available in the Richmond area to prepare students for professional work. Additionally, the department hosts an annual lecture called the Blake Lectures. The lecture honors William E. and Miriam S. Blake, and is presented by a renowned scholar. The lecture is supported by an endowed fund established by family, friends, colleagues, and those who enjoyed the History of Christianity course which Professor Blake initiated at VCU. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of this lecture series.
The Humanities Research Center, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), provides a forum for intellectual exchange across and beyond the Humanities, traversing conventional disciplinary boundaries and encouraging collaboration throughout the College as well as across the University as a whole and the local community. The Center is committed to building relationships and partnerships with colleagues at VCU and with other institutions in Richmond and the broader region. The center’s mission is interdisciplinary and inclusive, bringing together multiple disciplines and departments; collaborative, fostering engagement among faculty, students, and the community; global, in its engagement of research topics that span the world and through collaboration with colleagues and institutions around the globe; and public, in its dissemination of research through talks, colloquia, and strategic outreach activities. The Center supports faculty research and helps to advance faculty careers through the organization of research and mentoring groups, faculty development workshops, research grants, travel grants, and residential fellowships. It seeks to increase the visibility of scholarly work in the Humanities at VCU and more generally to raise awareness of the Humanities and all that this area of intellectual inquiry has to offer.
The Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers programs that prepare students to pursue careers that utilize exercise interventions for both healthy and diseased populations and/or careers designed for students who wish to enter a health care-related field (that does not require licensure, certification or registry status). The department offers a Bachelor of Science degree program with either an exercise science concentration or health science concentration (almost 1,500 students currently registered), a Master of Science degree program in Health and Movement Sciences, two Post-Baccalaureate Graduate Certificate Programs (Health Sciences and Behavior Coaching), and a PhD in Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences, which is offered in partnership with Physical Therapy within the College of Health Professions and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation within the School of Medicine.
The Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory in the department is dedicated to improving human health through research into basic physiological processes. Current research projects focus on investigating specific mechanisms underlying the positive health effects of physical activity and the adverse health effects of mental stress and physical inactivity. At present, there is an emphasis on examining cellular pathways associated with inflammation and vascular vasodilatory capacity in response to acute physical and mental challenges. Faculty also participate in the VCU RUN LAB, which utilizes evidence from research generated in the lab by students and clinical researchers working side-by-side within the departments of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology and Health Sciences. The lab aims to educate both students and the community on best practices for running and running health. Over forty faculty, affiliate faculty, staff, and graduate assistants work in the department.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, has 55 full-time faculty members, approximately 15 masters students, 40 PhD students and about 225 undergraduate math majors. Department members are committed teachers as well as active and productive mathematical researchers, publishing in peer review journals, publishing books, speaking at conference and seminars regionally, nationally, and internationally, reviewing journal articles, organizing conferences and sessions, and collaborating broadly within the mathematical and scientific communities. The department offers full-time undergraduate programs leading to the Bachelor of Science. Students may choose to concentrate in pure mathematics, applied mathematics, biomathematics, or teach preparation. The teacher preparation concentration offers, in partnership with the School of Education, a five-year program leading to both an undergraduate major in mathematics and a Master’s degree in Education. The department offers full and part-time graduate programs leading to the Master of Mathematical Science. In partnership with the Department of Statistical Science and Operations Research, a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Modeling and Analysis is offered, which focuses on the development of the mathematical and computational skills used to model and analyze real-world systems. The doctoral curriculum enables students to expand the frontiers of knowledge through original, relevant research involving quantitative and qualitative complex systems derived from real, contemporary problems facing our world.
22 tenured/tenure-eligible faculty’s active research currently includes combinatorics, graph theory, linear algebra, optimal control theory, biomathematics, logic and set theory, string theory, and mathematics education. Weekly seminars are held on topics such as Biomathematics, Discrete Mathematics, and Analysis, Logic, and Physics. Presentations are made by faculty, visiting mathematicians, and students. In addition, several times a year distinguished speakers are invited to campus to give presentations that are broadly accessible to students as well as those outside of the math department. The Mathematics and Applied Mathematics Department regularly offers continuing education programs for in-service teachers who are teaching mathematics in grades K-12. Recently programs were offered for middle school mathematics teachers who wish to be certified to teach Algebra I and for high school mathematics teachers who were preparing to teach the new high school mathematics course Algebra, Functions and Data Analysis.
The Department of Military Science and Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, is a partnership program with the University of Richmond Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Spider Battalion. 100 and 200 level classes are taught at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and Longwood University. 300 and 400 level courses are taught at the University of Richmond and Longwood University. Students attend military science classes at the institution closest to their school. Army ROTC provides individuals with the tools, training, and experiences they need to become Officers in the U.S. Army.
The Military Science and Leadership Program (Army ROTC) in the University of Richmond’s School of Arts & Sciences prepares highly talented students for careers in the U.S. Army while pursuing the major of their choice through a true focus on academics, university athletics, and campus leadership opportunities. Students receive a scholarship worth up to $160,000 to cover four years of tuition, book fees, and a monthly stipend in exchange for making a commitment of military service, either as an active duty or reserve military officer. High school applicants and current undergraduate students can compete for scholarships covering full tuition or room and board in addition to a $1,200 annual book stipend based on their qualities as scholars, athletes and leaders.
100 and 200 level military science courses are open as electives to all students. Every cadet that contracts into the program (regardless of scholarship status) receives a monthly stipend from $300 to $500 and works toward commissioning as a second lieutenant upon graduation and service in the active duty, Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard. Military science courses maximize hands-on practical exercises, allowing students to achieve training objectives through classroom experiences. The department uses U.S. Army National Cadet Command curriculum as the basis for each military science and leadership course. Professors are first and foremost military service members themselves, a fact that makes an ROTC education all the more relevant to the real world.
The Department of Philosophy, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers an undergraduate major in Philosophy, as well as minors in philosophy, and the philosophy of law. Students can concentrate their major in one of four areas: regular concentration, ethics and public policy, philosophy and science, and philosophy and law. Some graduate courses are also offered in moral theory and philosophy of science. The department offers a full range of courses in the main areas of philosophy. Graduates have attended some of the best graduate and law schools in the country. Many students take some philosophy courses for general education requirements or simply to insure a well-rounded education that includes an emphasis on improving reasoning and writing abilities. All of the courses place a heavy emphasis on developing students' abilities to think, read, and write critically. While some majors go on to become university philosophy professors, most go on to careers in such areas as law, medicine, business, government, teaching, and public service. Almost 20 faculty members support the department.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Physics, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, has 20 faculty members, approximately 20 graduate students and nearly 140 undergraduate physics majors. An undergraduate program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Physics is offered. Many majors combine their Physics BS with majors in Mathematics, and other disciplines. In addition, a unique double major is offered in collaboration with the School of Engineering. BS graduates are teaching in high schools, working in government and industrial laboratories, starting their own businesses, and pursuing graduate degrees in Physics and Engineering. In addition, the department offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science in Physics and Applied Physics and, in cooperation with the Department of Chemistry, a graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Both of these programs use a Plan of Study format that lets students and their research advisors choose the courses that will advance them toward their individual goals.
The department is committed to excellence in both research and teaching and has an active research program with approximately $1.6 million annually in research expenditures. Ten tenured/tenure eligible faculty conduct both experimental and theoretical research in nanostructures, atomic clusters, cluster-assembled materials, semiconductor defects and surfaces, spintronic materials, biophysics and biomaterials, as well as research in gravitational theory and cosmology. Several of the six term faculty members also participate in research while helping to teach the service courses that are required by a major university. A weekly colloquia program brings distinguished speakers to the department from academia and industry. Arrangements are made for the speakers to meet with students to discuss research and other topics. The program results in graduates well-prepared for careers in industry, academics and national research laboratories.
The Virginia Commonwealth College of Humanities and Sciences Department of Political Science offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with concentrations available in Politics and Government, Public Policy and Administration, International Relations, and Civil and Human Rights. The College also offers a Minor in Political Science, and many political science majors minor in other fields such as Public Management, Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, or International Studies. VCU also offers an accelerated, combined Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Public Administration degree option. Faculty includes professors with a broad spectrum of expertise in public sector management, international affairs, genocide and human rights, feminist political theory, international and comparative health, Russian politics, human security, U.S. presidential decision-making for national security and foreign policy, Asian politics, Middle Eastern politics and societies, and U.S. information/secrecy politics, among many other topics. The department is supported by 25 faculty and staff members.
The Department of Psychology, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, conducts community-engaged science that makes the region and world a better place and teaches thousands of students each semester about the amazing discoveries and ideas found in the discipline of psychology. The department offers a Bachelor of Science degree with the opportunity for individualization and has four Ph.D. granting graduate programs: Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Health Psychology and a General Psychology program with two sub-specialty concentrations (Developmental Psychology and Social Psychology). The Clinical and Counseling Psychology Programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association. Currently, the department has more than 1,400 undergraduate majors and 120 doctoral students. As a research-active department, faculty are awarded more than $10M in federal grant dollars annually. Faculty and students study a wide range of topics, with specific strengths in health psychology, behavioral medicine, prevention science, and work with youth and families including working on problems of addiction, community violence, eating disorders, child asthma, attention deficit disorder, unhealthy sleep patterns, HIV prevention, discrimination, and tobacco product regulation.
Faculty include 38 tenured or tenure-track faculty, 12 full-time non-tenure track teaching faculty, varying numbers of adjunct faculty, five administrative and professional faculty (including the associate director of advising and undergraduate academic operations and the associate director of graduate academic operations), a director of the Center for Psychological Services and Development, our training clinic, approximately 80 affiliate faculty, nine classified staff members, and several hourly employees. Fiscal operations in the department are supported by six full-time support staff, one of whom is the service center director of operations. Research programs in the department fund an additional four full-time faculty members, several administrative and professional faculty, three post-doctoral fellows, and numerous hourly and student workers. Physically, the faculty, staff, and graduate student offices are housed in five historic buildings in the downtown "Fan District" of Richmond, VA. These facilities include faculty and administrative offices, the Psychology Career Information and Advising Center, research laboratories, a graduate computer lab, classroom and seminar spaces, and conference rooms.
The department also houses a number of research and service centers and institutes, including the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention, Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. Virginia Commonwealth University was selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), US Department of State, as a new site for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program in 2006. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, a Fulbright exchange activity, brings accomplished professionals from selected developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Europe and Eurasia to the United States at a mid-point in their careers for a year of study and related practical professional experiences. Fellows are nominated by US Embassies or Fulbright Commissions based on their potential for leadership.
Lastly, the department runs the Center for Psychological Services and Development (CPSD). The CPSD provides a wide range of therapy and assessment services to the community. Advanced graduate students in clinical and counseling psychology, as well as graduate students in social work, psychiatric nursing, and rehabilitation counseling work closely with their licensed faculty supervisors to provide interventions based on the most current research in their discipline. A variety of specialty clinics are housed within the CPSD, including the Anxiety Disorders and Assessment Clinics. The CPSD also provides space for a variety of research activities, as well as numerous clinically-based graduate courses for the department of psychology. The CPSD also administers the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) to the general public.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Science, Technology and Society (STS) Program, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, began in 2006 with the recognition that the university’s wealth of program and resources, ranging from the School of Medicine to the School of the Arts to the new PH.D. Program in Media, Art, and Text (MATX), has made it uniquely positioned to create an interdisciplinary program, which integrates medicine, engineering, science, humanities, and social science students. The STS Program’s mission is to encourage all members of the VCU community and Richmond-area community to think broadly about scientific, technological, and medical work not just across disciplines, but also across C.P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’ divide through campus and community lectures and events, coordinated curricular planning, and faculty research and teaching.
STS has pursued its mission though several ongoing initiatives, including: A thematic STS Speakers Series, which began in the Fall of 2006, and typically brings three to four nationally renowned scholars, scientists, and artists to the VCU campus each year. A minor in Medical Humanities, which draws on STS-related courses taught throughout CHS, to provide undergraduate students, who have an interest in the health sciences, with an academic program focused on the social and cultural aspects of health care. A regularly-offered curriculum of undergraduate courses focused on the history of science, technology, and medicine, which VCU students may take as part of a Medical Humanities minor, a degree in History, or as upper-level elective courses. Included in the STS curriculum is a general education course, SCTS 200: Science in Society: Values, Ethics, Politics, which STS faculty typically offer every Fall semester, and which students may take as a Tier II Core course that satisfies the social/ behavioral sciences requirement. Ongoing research projects, conducted by STS faculty, focus on various aspects of the history of science and medicine, science education, and the role of science in society.
The Department of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, within the College of Humanities and Sciences, supports a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Science degree, and a graduate certificate in Applied Social Research. Teaching is anchored by a strong commitment to student engagement both inside and outside the classroom. Faculty and students share a strong interest in bringing sociology out into the public through social action, internships, community research, digital storytelling, and civic engagement. A student group called Students for Social Action organizes an annual Public Knowledge Series designed to open dialogue about current social debates and cultural questions. Sociology boasts a dynamic faculty whose scholarly research connects with local, national and international communities. Faculty areas of interest include gender/sexuality, health across the life course, media and culture, labor, social stratification, and the environment, and they possess expertise in the following areas: social inequality, reproduction and family, health/medical sociology, social movements, environmental and labor, and methodology. The department is supported by 27 faculty and staff members.
The Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research, housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers several degree programs in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. The department offers a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences with a concentration in either Operations Research or Statistics. In addition, the department offers a Certificate in Statistics, and for undergraduate students in other programs the department offers a minor in Statistics. Graduate students can pursue a Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences, with concentrations in operations research and statistics, or a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Modeling and Analysis focused on the development of the mathematical and computational skills used to model and analyze real-world systems. Operations Research (OR) is the professional disciplines that deal with the application of information technology for informed decision-making.
OR Professionals aim to provide rational bases for decision making by seeking to understand and structure complex situations and to use this understanding to predict system behavior and improve system performance. Much of this work is done using analytical and numerical techniques to develop and manipulate mathematical and computer models of organizational systems composed of people, machines, and procedures. OR draws upon ideas from engineering, management, mathematics, and psychology to contribute to a wide variety of application domains; the field is closely related to several other fields in the "decision sciences" including applied mathematics, computer science, economics, industrial engineering, and systems engineering. The Statistics and Analytics Consulting Lab offered by the department provides a variety of consulting services, which enhance both the educational experiences and research projects of VCU students and faculty. Consulting services include study and experiment design, statistical planning for grant writing, assistance with data management, statistical analysis of data, and interpretation of results. Students will find an involved and dedicated faculty committed to teaching and research. The department is supported by over 20 faculty members.