Forensics major added to course catalog

by Jason Staker

After lengthy consideration, Simpson College is adding a new program to the 2005-2007 course catalog: Forensics.

“Through the admissions office there has been a clear number of students who have asked [about forensics],” Registrar John Bolen said. “The interest is out there.”

The new program will be under the direction of the chemistry department. Professor of Chemistry Cliff Meints and his colleagues began campaigning for the addition more than a year ago.

“Forensics has always been a vocational interest for me,” Meints said. “But forensics as a possible major started gestating only about 12 to 18 months ago.”

New course catalogs will list the forensic science/biochemistry major as “a specialized form of the biochemistry major dealing with laboratory and forensic analysis.”

A combination of 17 courses in chemistry, biology and criminal justice composes the curriculum with elective courses including immunology, financial investigations and criminology. Supporting courses are recommended in physics, mathematics, sociology and ethics.

“You’re seeing a very clever combining of the courses needed for a forensics major,” Bolen said. “Basically, it’s a biochemistry major with additional courses.”

Since the demand for forensics is present almost everywhere, schools like DMACC already offer two-year introductory programs in forensics.

At Simpson, an increasing number of students is approaching the college with an interest in forensic science.

“Quite a few prospective students have asked about it,” Meints said. “At least three recent or present students have expressed the intention to get into it.”

Junior Hannah Elkin is one of those interested in the new program. Elkin came to Simpson with the intention of pursuing a forensics major.

When she realized the program didn’t exist, Elkin decided to major in both biochemistry and criminal justice.

“I think a lot of people want to do it,” Elkin said. “It will be good for people who see the CSI stuff on TV; they’ll realize it is much more than that.”

Meints said the demand for criminologists is increasing. He believes the program will draw in criminal justice majors, transfer students from DMACC and adults working in law enforcement.

“[It will attract] students who are interested in biochemistry but not wanting to do research – those wanting a job with more than the usual hum-drum chores,” Meints said.

Bolen said the number of students in the program in the fall could range from just a few to 15 or 20.

However, no matter how many become involved, Bolen still believes the addition is a necessary step for the college.

“I think it is a natural evolution of the program,” Bolen said. “I think it is a good move for the department.”