MC expands curricular offerings

MC expands curricular offerings

March 15, 2017

Maryville College has announced several new offerings to its curriculum, including a new major in outdoor studies and tourism, a minor in gender and women’s studies, a minor in environmental science, and a course about youth ministry.

New major in outdoor studies and tourism to be offered

In response to a growing student interest in the outdoor industry, Maryville College is now offering a major in outdoor studies and tourism, starting in the fall 2017 semester. The new major, which is part of the College’s Education Division, will replace the outdoor recreation major that was previously offered.

“Maryville College is ideally situated to offer an outdoor studies and tourism major due in part to our proximity to the Smoky Mountains, as well as to many other historical and recreational sites,” said Education Division Chair Dr. Traci Haydu, in the proposal for the major. “Students will benefit from being well prepared for a career in the outdoor industry, as well as for a variety of competitive graduate programs.”

The outdoor studies and tourism major aims to prepare students for careers that emphasize the importance of the natural environment, respectful enjoyment and interaction with nature, and the value of active, outdoor experiences. Graduates often pursue positions in the tourism industry, the management of outdoor programs and services, park management and law enforcement, or graduate study and work in the helping professions.

Students who complete the program will develop and acquire the following: leadership skills necessary to create, manage and facilitate safe and effective outdoor experiences; knowledge and skills necessary to create and manage sustainable tourism programs in a variety of settings; and program skills necessary to create, manage and evaluate programs that utilize outdoor natural settings to benefit human health.

The major requires a minimum of 53 credit hours, starting with OST 101: Introduction to Outdoor Studies and OST 102: Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism. Other required courses include OST 215 Natural Environments and Health, OST 301 Sustainable Tourism, OST 315 Wilderness Emergency Responder and OST 335 Outdoor Recreation Leadership. Students must also take five of the following outdoor activity classes: paddling I and II, personal fitness, camping and outdoor education, map and compass, fly-fishing, and rock climbing I and II.

Maryville College began offering a minor in outdoor studies and tourism in fall 2015. 

MC to offer new minor in gender and women’s studies

Also in fall 2017, Maryville College started offering a new minor in gender and women’s studies (GWS), as well as four new courses in support of the minor.

“This minor provides MC students with the opportunity to study gender through an interdisciplinary lens, said Dr. Frances Henderson, associate professor of political science and the coordinator of the gender and women’s studies minor. “Many of our peer and model institutions have gender and women’s studies programs, and increasingly students are looking for these types of interdisciplinary programs as they choose where to apply and later as they make their commitment decisions.

“As a field of academic study, Women’s Studies stretches back to the late 1960s and 1970s, and emerged as a result of the absence of women’s voices, experience and perspectives in academia,” Henderson continued. “Now, the discipline has expanded to encompass the emergence of courses on gender identity, sexuality, masculinities and intersectionality, in addition to new theories, empirical evidence and paradigms.”

The minor in gender and women’s studies consists of at least 15 credit hours and involves coursework from a variety of fields, including art, English, history, psychology, political science, religion and sociology.

Three new required courses have been created for the minor, including: GWS 101: Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies, GWS 337: Internship in Gender and Women’s Studies and GWS 401: Seminar on Gender and Women’s Studies. An additional new course, ENG 181: Women’s and Minority Literature, has also been created to offer an elective curricular option for students who choose to minor in gender and women’s studies, as well as those who major in English literature, English for teacher licensure and writing communication.

Henderson said the gender and women’s studies courses provide students with the language and tools to understand some of the most pressing national and global issues.

“For example, it is very difficult to understand the current cultural and legal debate in North Carolina around ‘The Bathroom Bill’ (NC House Bill 2) without a basic understanding of the concepts of gender and trans identity,” Henderson said. “Similarly, it is hard make sense of the gender wage gap without an understanding of the ways in which this wage gap manifests differently among African American, Latina and white women. MC’s GWS interdisciplinary minor encourages our students to ask and answer those types of questions using critical analysis and tools centered around race, class, gender and sexuality combined with an emphasis on gender equality, and is much welcome addition to our curriculum.” 

Environmental science minor now offered at MC

In fall 2016, Maryville College began offering a new minor in environmental science.

The Division of Natural Sciences decided to create the minor to “provide students with the necessary skills to enter into more field-based careers, such as wildlife ecology, conservation, state or national park service, or the Environmental Protection Agency,” explained Dr. Dave Unger, associate professor of biology and coordinator of the environmental science minor. The minor was also designed to provide a link between the College’s Natural Sciences program (which includes biology, chemistry and biochemistry) and the Environmental Studies program (which includes sustainability, policy, society and environmental education).

“Students focused on environmental studies would gain field skills through the minor,” Unger said. “Students focused more on the natural sciences would gain a better understanding of the social and political sides of environmental work, such as policy crafting, green economics and environmental education.”

Maryville College’s location is “perfect” for the field of environmental science, Unger said.

“In addition to the 140 acres of forest on the College’s campus, Maryville College is surrounded by millions of acres of public natural areas, including wildlife refuges, state parks, national forest, and of course, Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” the professor said. “In addition, the local area has abundant greenways, streams, lakes and rivers, which all provide areas for students to get hands-on field research experience.”

The minor in environmental science consists of at least 25 credit hours and involves coursework in environmental issues, biology, chemistry, ecology and evolution, and natural history of the Southern Appalachians. One new course, BIO 315: Geographic Information Systems, was “created” for the minor, Unger said.

“Maryville College now has a professional-grade GIS laboratory with the latest technology and ArcGIS software,” he said. “GIS is now considered a ‘must-have’ skillset in any area of natural resources employment, making our students much more competitive in this growing field. Although GIS had been an offered course at Maryville College since 2013, prior to the creation of the environmental science minor, it was created with the idea that it would eventually find its place in this area of our curriculum.”

Youth ministry course to be offered in fall 2017

“The Theory and Practice of Youth Ministry,” a special topics in religion course, will be offered for the very first time in fall 2017. The course is meant to prepare students of all faith dispositions for leadership in the church, particularly in journeying with youth in their faith.  

Guiding questions for the course include: “What challenges are youth facing today in their spiritual and religious outlook?” “What role does/should their faith and spirituality play in other areas of their life?” “What are the responsibilities of Christian education and ministry with youth?” “What is the role of Christian educator/youth minister/youth worker?”

The class is part of the newly established Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST) program at the College and will count for credit toward students’ Ministry and Church Leadership Certification.

“The hope of the youth ministry course is to expose students to the theories behind youth ministry and the practical skills required to connect and deepen young people’s faith with other facets of their lives,” said Jordan Conerty, course instructor and MAST program administrator. “The course is designed for any student who wants to pursue questions of professional or lay ministry, or for those whose careers will involve working with youth in any capacity. The ability to connect with youth is imperative, not only in ministry, but in many other contexts as well.”

By Chloe Kennedy, Assistant Director of Communications        


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.