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Updated: June 9, 2020

UNE unveils reorganization plan focused on interdisciplinary education

Aerial view of UNE campus in Biddeford Courtesy / University of New England The University of New England, whose Biddeford campus is shown here, announced a number of organizational changes on Monday.
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Making good on a promise to expand interdisciplinary education, the University of New England on Monday unveiled a phased reorganization plan that gives students the ability to combine disciplines within their major field of study.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses most undergraduate programming, UNE will transform the current structure of 13 individual, discipline-based departments into six multidisciplinary schools. 

The plan sets up schools of arts and humanities, biological sciences, marine and environmental sciences, physical science and mathematics, professional programs and social and behavioral sciences. 

On the heels of the organizational revamp, each school will develop interdisciplinary majors that allow students to tailor their academic programs to encompass more than one traditional academic field. 

“As a highly innovative and nimble institution, we are always seeking to adapt to meet the needs of our students and society both now and into the future,” said President James Herbert in a news release.

"UNE prides itself in being student-focused, and these changes will provide students the flexibility to craft their own plans of study so they can learn the fundamental skills and habits of mind that are at the core of a college education, while pursuing their unique passions and career aspirations," he added. "The changes will also create administrative efficiencies to ensure that we can provide these high-quality student programs while minimizing costs to students and their families.” 

The change comes more than a year after Herbert told Mainebiz in an interview that UNE was keen to take its team-based health education "to the next level" by better integrating medical students into its interprofessional educational efforts.

"We're also looking at developing partnerships with our clinical sites, hospitals and clinics in the state, so that students can go in cohorts and train in an interdisciplinary way," he said in January 2019.

UNE, which has campuses in Biddeford and Portland, plans to roll out the plan announced this week in phases.

Other changes include tweaking its professional health programs to facilitate more cross-disciplinary collaboration and merging its professional advising, career services and internship offices into a single Student Advising Center, providing a one-stop location for all student support services.

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