First interdisciplinary studies majors graduate from Harding

Thursday, June 2, 2011

— This May, three Harding University students became the first group of graduates for a program that allowed them to design their own unique majors, including visual media design, global communications and global narrative through the Honors College.

In an honors capstone project proposed by 2009 graduate Chris Cochran, the Honors College would fill voids for students designing their own majors and supervise the program under the office of the vice president for academic affairs.

The custom-designed interdisciplinary studies program began in fall 2009 and is now celebrating the first class of graduates, including Gil Gildner, Calea Bakke and Mark Slagle.

Gildner created a degree in visual media design that allowed him to combine upper-level communication classes with core graphic-design classes.

“I’m glad that I was able to get a good foundation of design skills and then build off those skills with some great communication classes,” Gildner said.

After graduation, he plans on using his unique degree to tell stories through visuals and to pursue documentary film making and commercial production.

Bakke created a degree called global communications that puts mass communication skills in a global setting with a foundation of political science, geography and history.

“I feel that the global communications major has prepared me for what I love to do - communicate with people around the world with different mediums and messages. This degree has allowed me to get the most out of my education at Harding by allowing me to create a degree plan that matches my passions while challenging and preparing me for the future,” Bakke said.

Upon graduating, Bakke will move to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to work for a nonprofit organization called One Hope in the communications department.

Slagle built his major with classes centered around history, social sciences and international studies and based in video production. In his time at Harding, he was able to work on two documentaries overseas and gain experience with storytelling in a global arena.

Three Rivers, Pages 52 on 06/02/2011