College of Arts and Sciences

Top 20 Reasons to Apply to the College of Arts and Sciences | Maxwell in 2020 [Part 2 of 2]

Today I’m sharing reasons #11-20 of my two-part post: the Top 20 Reasons to Apply to the College of Arts & Sciences | Maxwell in 2020!

Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

If after reading Part Two, you still have questions – don’t hesitate to reach out to the Office of Admissions! We’re here to help you as you navigate your college research and application process. Reach us anytime at!

11. Unique Integrated Learning Majors
Syracuse’s signature Integrated Learning Majors (ILMs) in Forensic Science; Environment, Sustainability & Policy; Ethics; Energy & Its Impacts; Citizenship & Civic Engagement; and Neuroscience combine the academic coursework of traditional majors with professional training in an applied or multidisciplinary field. First created in 2010, ILMs, housed in A&S | Maxwell, offer students broad exposure to their field of choice and increased employability due to the versatile nature of these programs.

12. Liberal Arts Core
The College of Arts & Sciences is the home of liberal arts at Syracuse University. A&S faculty believe that education should do two essential things: help students master fundamental intellectual skills for communication and expression and develop broad perspectives on the world and human experience.

The Liberal Arts Core requirements ensure that all students in A&S take courses in writing, language, quantitative skills, humanities, social and natural science, and is part of what makes an A&S | Maxwell degree so meaningful. These skills also translate to success after Syracuse – written communication skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work in a team are three of the most-cited attributes employers look for in college graduates!

13. Tailored Career Advising
In addition to a university-wide Career Center, A&S | Maxwell students can take advantage of tailored career advising from in-house advisors that specialize in the liberal arts and sciences. Need help finding an internship or networking in your field? Starting to think about graduate school or obtaining a full-time job after graduation? Take advantage of resources like school-specific immersion trips, online networking and job platform Handshake, and annual career fairs with the assistance of our A&S | Maxwell advisors and feel confident in your path!

14. Support from the Dean’s Team
The A&S | Maxwell Dean’s Team is a group of undergraduate student ambassadors who will help you transition to Syracuse and answer any questions you have along the way. Members of the Dean’s Team are selected across diverse backgrounds, majors, and hometowns but they all have one thing in common: they bleed Orange! Dean’s Team ambassadors will be on hand to help you answer any questions you might have throughout the year, and even serve as mentors in first-year forums, the discussion-based courses required of all first-semester A&S | Maxwell students.

15. Discovery ProgramOtto the Orange visits Big Ben in London
Do you have the travel bug? Considering a gap year abroad? First-year students in A&S have the opportunity to study abroad during their first semester as a Syracuse University student through the Discovery Program. With locations in Florence, Italy; Madrid, Spain; or Strasbourg, France – you can scratch your itch to travel while earning Syracuse University credit alongside other Syracuse students.

 16. Exciting Minors
A&S | Maxwell students are able to take advantage of any of the 100 minors at Syracuse University, no matter which school or college they are housed in! With unique options like Global Security Studies, Mindfulness & Contemplative Studies, Entrepreneurship & Emerging Enterprises, and much, much more, you’ll be sure to find a great option to complement your chosen course of study.

17. Power of A&S | Maxwell Alumni
With over 70,000 accomplished and engaged alumni worldwide, A&S | Maxwell students don’t have to look far to find connections that bleed Orange. With alumni events both on and off-campus, social networking programs like Handshake and the #hireorange initiative, it’s easy for A&S | Maxwell students to connect and share with Syracuse alumni from day one!

Syracuse University students on graduation day

18. Washington Semester Program
The Maxwell School’s Washington Semester Program allows undergraduate students to work and intern in the nation’s capital while earning Syracuse University credit. Students who participate in the Washington Semester Program gain first-hand experience in both international and domestic policy that sets them up for success pursuing careers in public service, public affairs, NGOs, media and business, and more!

19. Meaningful Community Service OpportunitiesSyracuse University students participating in community service
With resources like the Shaw Center and 20+ community service organizations at their fingertips, A&S | Maxwell students have countless opportunities to volunteer and make a difference during their time at Syracuse. During the 2019-20 academic year, Syracuse’s 150th Anniversary, the campus community was even charged with completing 15,000 hours of community service in 150 days – which they met and exceeded! No matter the cause that is near and dear to your heart, you’ll be able to make a difference during your undergraduate career at Syracuse.

20. Ability to Take Academic Risks
With 60+ majors and 100+ minors to choose from and the ability to take classes across campus as part of the Liberal Arts Core, A&S | Maxwell students are encouraged to explore their academic interests and take learning risks. Want to dabble in economics? Interested in trying a new language or learning more about nutrition? You’ll have space to indulge your curiosities and under guided support from academic and career advisors.

Bridging the Gap between Engineering and Geography

Simone stands in a research laboratory, with a lab bench behind her and glassware displayed to her left

When Simone Burns came to Syracuse, she knew she wanted to major in Environmental Engineering. During her time here, she found her passion at the intersection of engineering and geography.

What sparked your interest in geography, in addition to engineering?

During my freshman year, I took a class called World Cultures. I never took a class like that in high school – it wasn’t just about cultures. It was also an introduction to the geographical principles of space, place, how we fit within them, and how we interpret or use them. For example, we talked about living rooms, and I really enjoyed thinking about how people from different cultures use the same space in different ways.

Later on, I took a geography class and learned about mapping technology. Using geographic information systems (GIS), you can pull together different kinds of data to create layered maps. I was able to take what I was learning in class and apply it in a real, physical way. For example, the class made maps of all the places we frequently visited on campus. When we put the maps together, we saw that the routes, represented by lines, were different for every person; everyone had different patterns. I remember thinking, “oh, I could see myself doing a lot more with this.”

Indeed, you have done more! Can you explain how you continued to work with GIS?

Most recently, I used GIS for my senior design project. There were about 20 different topics that students could choose from, including GIS, which I immediately signed up for. Our assignment was to solve a problem about bike lanes: there were only three bike lanes near campus, but many people bike around our campus, and there was a need for an online resource.

First, we researched the existing bike lanes around campus. We found that a lot of people could use the existing lanes to get to campus, but once they reached main campus they would share the roadways with buses and zig-zag around pedestrians on the sidewalk. It’s dangerous for everyone involved, but where else could the bikers go?

To get ideas for how to solve this problem, we teamed up with an advisor from Syracuse’s Office of Sustainability, researched bike lanes on other college campuses, took a close look at the bike lanes in the City of Syracuse, and surveyed the people who use them. We needed a lot of information: What kind of bike lanes do people prefer? How could we signify that a lane is intended for bikers? Where do people typically bike while they’re on campus? Where are the bike racks? What other resources do they use?

We decided to collaborate with the University to create an interactive map that bikers can use to plan their trips to, from, and around campus. The map will tell them where the bike lanes and bike racks are, along with places of interest like restaurants, lockers, or places to take a shower. We started out with nothing, at ground zero, and had to build all of those maps with buildings, bike racks, and bike lanes – everything someone would need when mapping out a route.

This project was a manifestation of both my majors, with geography influencing engineering and vice versa. I had to think about the engineering and technical aspects of building the maps, but also think, “okay, from a social aspect, how do we interact with the space?” I have learned that you can’t just think technically to create a design; there are so many other factors that go into it.

Simone and four other students stand in front of a research poster
Simone’s senior design team of civil and environmental engineering students called Green Path. From Left to Right: Simone Burns (Project Manager), Yuanyuan Wang (Design Analyst), Kimberly Fitzgerald (GIS Analyst), Lilin Liu (Design Analyst), and Hope Bartlett (Data Analyst).

It sounds like this project was a fantastic learning experience. What are your next steps?

After graduation, I participated in a short-term study abroad class called Asiatech. I visited and learned from various tech companies in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. After the trip, I began my current internship with SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Physical Plant Department; I am digitizing and modeling their hospital buildings using 2D and 3D drawing software. After my internship, I will pursue my Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL where I will conduct research using GIS to improve transportation and evacuation routes in Florida.

Simone dressed in her graduation gown, holding her graduation cap, with the hall of languages and flowering trees in the background