UW file

University of Wyoming students walk and bicycle past the Wyoming Union. Laramie Boomerang/file

LARAMIE – The University of Wyoming’s board of trustees unanimously approved a new computer science education certificate program during November’s board meeting on Thursday, and gave the go-ahead for proposed bachelor’s degree programs in neuroscience and early childhood education to move forward.

The certificate program, which is planned to become available for the Spring 2020 semester on-campus and online, will be collaboratively offered by UW’s College of Engineering and College of Education – providing an opportunity for Wyoming K-12 teachers to be endorsed for the teaching of computer sciences, such as programming, to their own students.

Anne Alexander, associate vice provost for undergraduate education at UW, said the program will be especially relevant now that the Wyoming Legislature has mandated such teaching in K-12 schools.

“A couple years ago they added it to the ‘basket of goods’ that all students in Wyoming schools should get an education in – so now we need people who can teach it.” Alexander said.

The projected cost for the program is “extremely low,” according to a report from the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs presented during the board meeting. $7,000 was requested, and approved, in order to implement online teaching of the courses – including the hiring of an “instructional designer.”

Also unanimously approved by trustees for further action were two new proposals to eventually create bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood development and neuroscience, as well as one proposal for a master’s degree in ‘environment and natural resources in society.’

“We have not had a degree in early childhood – all of our early childhood work has happened through the College of Agriculture,” Alexander said. “This would allow us to have an interdisciplinary program that would both serve new students but also a number of adult and non-traditional students who are serving in areas like child development centers, head-starts, private childcare – and also bridge the gap between those individuals who are working in early childhood and early-elementary first, second and third grade.”

“All over the state, people are calling for this – it’s a very high priority,” Trustee Mel Baldwin said as he stated his support for the early childhood development program.

After getting the initial greenlight from trustees, these programs will need further consideration and work to become a reality.

“There are many steps in the process of degree proposals,” Alexander said. “The notice of intent is basically, they lay out a very baseline argument for why we would like to put forward a proposal in a few months for a degree program.”

The next step is a feasibility study to determine details such as what a curriculum would be like, how many students might be enrolled in a program and what a program’s associated career prospects could be. Once those considerations are complete, final proposals are presented to trustees along with full budget proposals.

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