Southeastern offers new degree program

Adult learners between the ages of 25-64 are becoming increasingly common in the college classroom. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008 American Community Survey, 22.6 percent of Louisiana residents have some college and no degree.
Southeastern and the eight other University of Louisiana System colleges have partnered with the Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana to accommodate the growing population of adult learners and to help with the constant disasters that plague our society.
Through CALL, the nine universities of the ULS have set in motion an innovative idea. The 100 percent online degree program in Organizational Leadership has a selection of nine concentrations, each being offered at one of the nine ULS universities, and Southeastern is offering a concentration in Disaster Relief Management.
“It’s really interdisciplinary,” said Dr. Karen Fontenot, interim dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, which will house the degree program.
Students will have the chance to learn more details about how to react to a disaster, crisis or any cultural bind through the coursework. Online classes include sociology, communication, economics, criminal justice and social work courses and textbooks will be available at the textbook rental store on North Campus.
The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences was given the core layout of the degree, but had the room to create a specific curriculum. In doing so, Fontenot spent a lot of time speaking with Louisiana first responders.
“I talked to a lot of people who are involved in this sort of work, and there was a huge hole in Louisiana with disaster relief management,” Fontenot said.
In Southeast Louisiana the word disaster may bring to mind only hurricanes, floods or crime but disasters are everywhere and not all of them are natural.
As a state on the Gulf Coast, “we get our fair shares of disasters,” Fontenot said. “However, we’re also looking at potential man-made disasters: terrorist attacks, any sort of epidemic.”
Enrollment requires the student to be 25 years of age and according to Fontenot, the program is likely to attract first responders. It gives people interested a chance to continue their higher education through an online medium accommodating to a busy lifestyle.
“People that are on the front lines of any kind of a disaster, they need this information,” said Fontenot. “They’re very good at their specialty, but [there may be] someone who may know how to deal with a crisis medically, but may not know all the other things that go into it.”
The “cooperative effort” among the ULS universities is what makes the program so unique. Each class for the disaster relief concentration is taught by a different faculty member from the nine universities so everyone will be included in teaching. 
Other requirements include having completed all of Southeastern’s general education courses, be in good academic standing and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0. The academic program coordinator will make the final decision as to who is admitted. For more information about applying for the degree program, visit yourcallla.org or contact Dr. Carol Madere at 549-5681.