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New Majors Prepped for Take-off

Written by: 
Kristen L. Walsh

Four new undergraduate majors are set to launch in September, each a star in its own right. But connecting them all is a commitment to preparing graduates to shine.

Actuarial Science, Public Policy, Spanish Studies, and Sustainability Science. The topics are compelling on their own – and even more so when coupled with business know-how. Each of Bentley’s new offerings requires a companion major or minor in Business Studies.  

Students who major in Sustainability Science, for example, will be charged with analyzing the Earth’s environmental systems relative to societal and business activity. It is essential preparation for professionals who must consider environmental, economic and societal sustainability in corporate decision-making.

The curriculum speaks to data from a global survey of companies conducted in 2011 by McKinsey & Company. The research found that organizations are placing more emphasis on sustainability planning.

“Students will be particularly qualified to step into planning and leadership roles in which they will not only help incorporate green business practices – such as reducing energy and natural resource consumption – but also identify ways that corporate sustainability will improve efficiency and the bottom line.” notes Rick Oches, associate professor and chair of the Natural and Applied Sciences Department.

Measuring Risk

Good business sense is also a sweet spot for actuarial science. Professionals in this growing area use quantitative methods to evaluate the risk of uncertain events in industries such as insurance. Along with traditional actuarial preparation that hones math and computer skills, the Bentley major builds general business acumen to improve graduates’ odds for career success.

The winning mix of broad and specialized skills is uncommon in higher education, but commonly sought by employers. That is, the math-minded actuary who also commands a big-picture view of business and keen communication skills is best positioned to work with colleagues across the organization and with outside regulators.

Speaking from Experience

Innovation runs between the lines of the Spanish Studies major. Open to native and non-native speakers of Spanish, the program develops language skills and cultural sensibility for conducting business in three regions of the world: Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Requirements for the major include an applied learning experience, for example, a semester of study in a Spanish-speaking country or an internship with either an American company abroad or a Spanish-owned company in the States.  

Applied study figures into the Public Policy major as well. Along with gaining proficiency in a foreign language, students will pursue a directed study course, fourth-credit service–learning option, or approved internship.

In proposing the major, Global Studies Department professor and chair Joni Seager was answering a call of sorts. Data from the National Association of Schools in Public Affairs and Administration suggest that Bentley is the first university in Massachusetts to offer Public Policy as a stand-alone undergraduate major.

“As more millennials seek jobs with a service aspect, the combination of public policy and business will expand their bandwidth,” Seager says of pathways that include master’s and doctoral programs, public sector work, and employment in the government relations divisions of private companies.

More broadly, the Public Policy major aims to cultivate thought leaders.

“We are successful if we have helped students develop a strong ethical foundation for decision-making,” she says. “They will leave Bentley with the knowledge needed to make a difference in complex public issues that face the world.”

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