We prepare students to create the future.
The College of Sciences and Arts is engaged with all academic units as a strong partner in the effort to make Michigan Technological University a premier modern technological university, one that pursues education and research about all aspects—business, scientific, and technical; human, social, cultural and artistic; structural and organizational—of the technological world in which we live.
Our focus in education is: (1) to provide innovative undergraduate degree offerings, minors and graduate programs appropriate to the growing scope of the challenges, the complexity and diversity of the technologies of the 21st century and, (2) to offer the general education in the liberal arts and the foundational learning in the natural sciences and mathematics that provide all Michigan Tech students with both the communicative, analytic and cultural skills and the fundamental knowledge that are the essential tools for success in every profession and field of endeavor. No other unit at Michigan Tech shoulders such a wide responsibility, and success in these tasks requires every CSA unit to develop and maintain complementary and balanced undergraduate teaching and graduate education and research efforts. Because most of the college’s disciplinary departments are too small to achieve world-class recognition via the usual ranking systems, i.e., recognition for research by the unit as opposed to the efforts of outstanding individuals within units, the college places emphasis upon achieving national and international recognition by identifying and promoting education and research that cross disciplines and draw upon the strength of multiple departments in innovative ways.
Such a focus on university- and college-wide initiatives and programs is further necessitated by the multiple educational roles played by the sciences and arts at Michigan Tech (see Fig. 1). In terms of faculty and teaching responsibilities (Student Credit Hour production) the college is the largest unit on campus. However, in terms of majors, and hence in terms of its alumni base, CSA is a relatively smaller element of the university. Since all departments and faculty are affected by diminishing State support in the same way, the faculty and programs of the college must be able to make case statements and obtain a share of the capital campaign that goes beyond their alumni base. Therefore this document presents how the educational, research, scholarly, and creative efforts of the faculty and individual departments in the College of Sciences and Arts contribute, in an overarching and university-wide fashion, to the university’s strategic goals:
- GOAL 1: Attract, retain, and support a world-class and diverse faculty, staff, and student population.
- GOAL 2: Deliver a distinctive and rigorous discovery-based learning experience grounded in science, engineering, technology, sustainability, the business of innovation, and an understanding of the social and cultural contexts of our contemporary world.
- GOAL 3: Establish world-class research, scholarship, innovation, and creative work that promotes sustainable economic and social development in Michigan, the nation, and the world.
Sciences and Arts in a Technological University
The strategic plan for the College of Sciences and Arts remains consistent with the basic premise that has guided the college for more than a quarter century: this University requires strong departments and programs in the sciences and the liberal arts. This would be true if Michigan Tech was only the engineering school that it was for much of its history, as suggested by the National Academy of Engineering report, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century.1 But as the technological university that Michigan Tech has become over the last thirty-five years, strong units in the sciences and arts are not just important but essential, and not simply because they offer foundational instruction. This College also undertakes scientific, social, cultural and humanistic research that helps us understand, shape, and interpret the implications of every scientific and engineering innovation and discovery pursued on this campus. Importantly, every department has carefully developed academic majors, graduate programs, and research foci consistent with the banner “technological university.” Our operative assumption is that in a world marked by rapid scientific and technical change, graduates who grasp the fundamentals of science and math can expect to have successful careers. But rapid transitions in science and technology are matched by global shifts in society, economics, culture, and politics. Navigating these changes can prove even more difficult than understanding the sometimes less complicated changes in science and technology. Students should leave Michigan Tech knowing, and knowing how to learn more about, both aspects of change. To that end, the College of Sciences and Arts will prepare our students -- foundational learners, undergraduate majors, and graduate students alike -- to create the future in this complex, ever-changing world.
1National Academy of Engineering, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2004).