This semester, the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP) and the new Master of Public Health (MPH) program are bringing new research and degree opportunities to students at Binghamton University.
I-GMAP was created in December 2016 when an anonymous donor pledged more than $500,000 over the next four years to the institution’s research. This semester, the institute has enrolled its first group of undergraduate students in its minor program and created a proposal for both a graduate certificate and master’s degree, which will go through a two-year approval process. The program now has its own suite of offices in Library North Room G100, which have been renovated specifically for I-GMAP and its functions, and hosted Tanzanian diplomat Liberata Mulamula in October. According to Provost Donald Nieman, I-GMAP co-directors Max Pensky and Nadia Rubaii have cultivated efforts toward emerging scholarship and innovation in the short time since its establishment.
Christopher DeMarco, a junior majoring in political science, said he is considering a minor within I-GMAP due to its real-life application for a career in public policy and international law.
“This program will train me and the next generation to recognize and prevent the atrocious genocides of the past,” DeMarco said. “If we study it scientifically, we can figure out the patterns and try to stop further catastrophes before they happen.”
Owen Pell, ‘80, president of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, is responsible for facilitating the program and said he has seen an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to I-GMAP.
“I think that BU students across a wide range of programs and majors understand why the [Institute] is important, interesting, and something they may want to consider as they advance through the university,” Pell wrote.
In addition to I-GMAP, the University is currently developing the Master of Public Health (MPH) program, expected to begin next fall. The program differs from the traditional science courses because it is intended to provide a rigorous education on the increasingly prevalent study of public health issues and the solutions that may be created for communities’ well-being.
The State Department of Education approved the program during summer 2017, delaying the program’s enrollment for this semester. Yvonne Johnston, a research associate professor in the Decker School of Nursing, was appointed this September to direct the MPH program and is currently developing the curriculum for an expected first class of 25 graduate students.
Through the Freshman Research Immersion program, undergraduate students can work within the MPH program in the new Community and Global Public Health research stream.
Susan Strehle, distinguished professor of English and the former vice provost and dean of the graduate school, stressed the burgeoning opportunities presented by the MPH program.
“Careers in public health are expanding, so we think this will be a great program for our campus,” Strehle wrote in an email.
Both programs will help boost BU’s graduate student population, which has risen from 2,885 students in 2011 to 3,422 in 2015, an 18 percent increase. BU President Harvey Stenger has committed to raising enrollment to 20,000 students by 2020, according to his Road Map Plan. Much of this increased enrollment is expected to come from graduate students.
Loren Odam, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said he thinks the MPH program will be a source of opportunity and enrichment for both her peers and herself.
“A lot of my friends are interested in earning a MPH in the future, and it is nice that they will soon have Binghamton’s program as an option,” Odam said. “An MPH will allow me to utilize concepts I’ve studied in the classroom in the real world.”
According to Nieman, the two programs are unique in the way that they will add to the University’s influence in off-campus matters.
“I’m especially proud of them because they are intellectually rigorous, meet pressing needs at the local and global levels and open opportunities for Binghamton University students,” Nieman wrote in an email.