November 18, 2005 Vol. 21 No. 7
Western to Offer Forensic Chemistry Major Beginning Spring 2006
The science and art of crime scene investigation (CSI) are just two of the areas that will be taught at Western beginning Spring 2006 when forensic chemistry is offered as an academic degree program.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) approved Western’s request for the new Bachelor of Science in forensic chemistry, which will make Western the only Illinois institution to offer a baccalaureate degree in this discipline. Western currently offers a minor in forensic chemistry and a minor in forensic science through the department of chemistry.
Nationally, only two institutions, Ohio University at Athens and the University of Mississippi, currently offer a Bachelor of Science in forensic chemistry. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale is the only other Illinois institution to offer the study of forensic science or chemistry; however, the option is only available as a concentration within a student’s major field of study.
What makes Western’s program most unique is that it is a baccalaureate program with a very strong emphasis in chemistry, where a lot of other programs stress social or criminal justice, according to Inessa Levi, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
While classes and labs promise to be interesting and challenging, they may not always resemble Hollywood-style CSI scenes, a la Las Vegas, Miami or New York, Levi said. The minimum of 123 semester hour of coursework will, however, prepare graduates with a strong chemistry background and a specialization in forensic sciences which will qualify them to work in modern laboratories at the local, regional, state and federal levels; as well as with such agencies as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency or private chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
According to the IBHE report, it is expected that the program will initially enroll 10 students and that the number of the majors will increase 10 to 15 annually until it levels out at 48 majors in four to five years.