ASU adds Arizona's 1st bachelor's degree in statistics

March 17, 2011

Starting with the Fall 2011 semester, university students in Arizona will have the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in statistics. Arizona State University’s" target="_blank">New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences will offer the degree on ASU’s West campus.

“Arizona is the 16th most populous U.S. state and until now was the only one in the top 20 without a bachelor’s degree program in statistics,” said Roger Berger, director of New College’s" target="_blank">Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. Download Full Image

“The addition of this degree will benefit the state’s economy by providing graduates who possess the knowledge and skills needed to help meet today’s demand for continuous improvement and cost reduction in both the public and private sectors,” Berger said. “Statisticians help to make decisions and solve problems in the face of uncertainty, using the limited data available from an experiment or survey. Because the use of statistical methods is common in all areas of business, government, and natural and social sciences, there is strong demand for individuals with all levels of statistical training.”

The field of statistics has impressive supporters. According to Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, “I keep saying the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s?”

A recent New York Times technology article featured the headline, “For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics.”

Graduates from the ASU program will be prepared for entry-level positions as statisticians or for graduate school in statistics or related fields.

The new program encompasses both theoretical and applied statistics, with an emphasis on computer-based statistical analysis. Students will take several courses in mathematics and applied computing and also will select an area of focus from fields such as biology, criminal justice, public health or business.

“The program’s structure is in keeping with New College’s emphasis on providing interdisciplinary experiences for our students,” said Elizabeth Langland, dean of New College. “Students nearing graduation will complete a capstone project developed in conjunction with an outside industry or agency, serving to demonstrate our core values of community engagement and service.”

The new program adds to ASU’s degree offerings in statistics. The university’s Graduate College offers a master’s and a Ph.D. program in the field.

“There is a growing interest in the field, both because of the demand for statisticians and because more students are learning about statistics in high school, mainly through Advanced Placement courses in statistics,” Berger said. “The AP statistics exam was first administered in 1997 to approximately 7,600 students, and the numbers have grown by roughly 10 percent each year since then. The most recent available figure, for 2009, was more than 116,000 students taking the exam. Until now, there has been no option in Arizona for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in statistics.”

Once they complete the new bachelor’s program, students may decide to pursue an advanced degree in statistics or a related field. “The fact that students in the B.S. program will take multiple classes in an area of focus will prepare them to pursue interests in specific applications of statistics. We anticipate that these students with deep quantitative skills will be excellent candidates for advanced degree programs in a wide range of fields,” Berger said.

Among the course titles in the bachelor’s degree program are Design and Analysis of Experiments, Applied Regression Analysis and Time Series, Statistical Computing, Quality Improvement, and Multivariate Analysis.

According to Berger, “We expect some quantitatively oriented students in other ASU majors to benefit from the new degree, because they will take advantage of the opportunity to take some of the new courses offered in the statistics program.”

For more information about the new statistics degree, email mns">"> or call (602) 543-6050.

Lecture focuses on women, human rights in Afghanistan

March 17, 2011

What role has religion played in the status of women in Afghanistan’s recent history? How have international human rights discourses worked to shape opportunities for women? After decades of war, what important changes and challenges lie ahead for the women of Afghanistan?

Marzia Basel, founder and executive director of the Afghan Women’s Judges Association and the Afghanistan Progressive Law Organization, will discuss these issues in a free public lecture, “Gender, Religion, and Human Rights: Afghanistan’s Changes and Challenges,” at 4:30pm, March 22, in West Hall, room 135. Download Full Image

The lecture is presented by ASU’s Center">">Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, and funded by a grant from the Luce Foundation for the project, “Through the Prism of Rights and Gender: Religion and International Affairs.”

“Marzia Basel’s experience with Afghanistan’s legal system over the last twenty years, and her role in its ongoing development, have put her at the frontier of working through the ways in which religion, rights and gender are negotiated,” said Linell Cady, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict.

Basel has been named a Luce International Fellow by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. She will be serving a one month residency at the center, which kicks off with this public lecture. During the residency, she will be participating in the Luce faculty seminar on religion, gender, and human rights, meeting with students, faculty and members of the community, and speaking to a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate classes.

“I am excited by this opportunity not only to teach about religion, rights and women’s roles in Afghanistan, but also to learn more about the relationship of religion, gender and international law in the US,” said Basel.

In addition to giving lectures, Basel will also be sitting in on classes that encompass issues of law, religion and political science.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to dialogue with someone who has such a unique and important perspective on the research goals of our project, as well as to learn more about what is really happening in Afghanistan” said Carolyn Warner, head of the political science faculty and co-director of the Luce project with Cady.

Basel has extensive training and experience in international relations, women in development, and law. She holds a bachelor’s in law and political science from Kabul University and a master’s in international law and comparative studies from George Washington University.  She was employed as a judge in both civil and criminal courts in Kabul and served in the Supreme Court Legal Aid Department and the Kabul Public Security Court.

During the period of Taliban rule (1996-2001), Basel ran a private, home-based school for women where she designed programming and taught English. After the fall of the Taliban, she was active in state reconstruction, serving on the Kabul Public Security Court and serving as a representative for the establishment of the Independent Afghan Judicial Commission and as an officer for the Emergency Loya Jirga Commission.

She was integral to women’s mobilization during reconstruction, working for the Director of UNIFEM Afghanistan as a Gender Justice Officer and serving on the Afghan Constitution Commission in a unit supporting women in the election process.

Basel founded the Afghan Women Judges Association and, in 2009, founded the Afghanistan Progressive Law Organization where she currently serves as executive director. She is also a volunteer member of the Afghan Independent Bar Association Women's Committee, and a volunteer member of the advisory committee for the Afghan Women's Ministry.

The lecture in West Hall will be followed by a reception in the Secret Garden.

For more information, visit">">