Session S82 (Thursday, 9:30am, Wartik 106)

P970: Moving a novel forensic science program toward FEPAC accreditation

Thomas Jourdan (University of Central Oklahoma, USA)

Even before the publication of the National Academy of Sciences report “Strengthening the Science in Forensic Science in the United States:  A Path Forward”, we at the Forensic Science Institute (FSI), University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) had developed and implemented a new approach to undergraduate education in forensic science.  Forensic science is an interdisciplinary field of study which includes specialties such as pathology, engineering, odontology, toxicology, entomology, anthropology, psychiatry, psychology, biology, chemistry, computer science, and criminal justice.  Isolating forensic science programs within a single traditional academic unit tends to limit the options available to students seeking careers in forensic science and has a negative impact on the diversity of the pool of job candidates for forensic laboratories. After 30 years, UCO has ceased to offer a stand-alone Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in forensic science.  The forensic science baccalaureate academic program, formerly housed in the Department of Chemistry, now resides in the FSI, and has morphed into a unique design in which forensic science can only be engaged as the companion in a double-major or dual-degree program.  Couplings with the new curriculum in the forensic science program to date have been biology, chemistry, anthropology, engineering, physics, psychology, computer science, criminal justice, nursing, accounting, English, and art, although others can be envisioned.  The forensic science Master of Science (MS) degree program has similarly transitioned to the FSI and is now a research, thesis-oriented degree.  The FSI has as well reached out for partnering institutions, the first being the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Laboratory (OSBI), adjacently located to the FSI.  A cadre of academically-qualified OSBI forensic examiners serve as adjunct faculty in FSI courses, some of which are taught at the OSBI’s training laboratory.  Undertaking the path to FEPAC accreditation has required considerable effort for our novel forensic science program.  At the undergraduate level are two FEPAC-accreditable tracks, forensic molecular biology and forensic chemistry.  At the graduate level, our forensic chemistry/biology/anthropology track is FEPAC accreditable, while the generalist track for our remaining specialists is not.

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