Feb 6th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
If you are a regular reader of this section, you know the subject matter can vary significantly from column to column. Of course, the general subject is always Valley City State University and topics have ranged from such areas as new campus initiatives, construction and facilities projects, athletics, student activities, new employees, national recognitions, and a wide range of other subjects.

Over the course of the next several columns, with the help of VCSU's Vice-President for Academic Affairs (Dr. Margaret Dahlberg), we will take a "continuing series" approach and introduce you to VCSU's five academic divisions. The five divisions are: Business and Information Technology (BIT); Communication Arts and Social Sciences (CASS); Fine Arts; Math, Science, and Health & Physical Education (MSHPE); and the School of Education and Graduate Studies (SEGS). In each column you will learn about the academic programs in the divisions, the faculty who teach in those areas, the career paths for graduates, the unique features of these divisions, and how the divisions fit into VCSU's overall academic mission.

We begin with a focus on the Communication Arts and Social Sciences Division, commonly referred to as "CASS" on the VCSU campus. This division offers majors in English, Spanish, history, social science, psychology, human services, and professional communication, and minors in theatre and library information. Additionally, CASS works with every new freshman on campus in a number of general education courses.

The Division offers several opportunities for community involvement including theatre productions and the monthly lecture series, "What in the World is Going On?," which explores current issues and national concerns in a variety of fields. In addition, community members are welcome to take evening coursework in creative writing, sociology, or history.

Each year the Division publishes "The Forge," a literary magazine with poetry, prose, and visual arts created by the VCSU community. Several courses and clubs in the Division interact with the Valley City community by working on projects at the Barnes County Historical Society, and faculty collaborate with off-campus groups that help students get a sense of real-world applications of knowledge. Students in Human Services, psychology, and history often complete internships in the local area, and, of course, students in English, History, or Spanish Education student-teach in local schools.

Members of the Division are active in national and international organizations. CASS faculty also serve on committees designed to enhance, improve, and evaluate learning opportunities for post-secondary students. For example, Professors Dina Petherbridge (Spanish) and Steven King (History) both serve as readers for Advanced Placement examinations. Julee Russell (English) and Dina Petherbridge work with the accrediting agency NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) to review teacher education programs in English and Spanish. Professor Shannon VanHorn serves as the editor of a key journal in the area of professional communication. All of these experiences help the faculty members to keep abreast of changes in their disciplines.

This year two CASS professors are offering travel experiences for students. In March, Jenni Lou Russi will be traveling to England with a group of students interested in theatre. In May, Dr. Steven King is leading a study tour to Greece and Rome. Additionally, Professor Dina Petherbridge regularly makes arrangements for students to study abroad and has taken students to Honduras.

The faculty, students and staff of the Communication Arts and Social Sciences Division are proud and active members of the Valley City community. There's a lot going on in this division, and the Valley City community is always welcome to get involved with CASS activities!