Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island is home to a new Irish studies program.

The program, being offered to students as a minor course, was officially launched by the Irish Vice Consul in New York, Alan Farrelly.

The program promises students a unique opportunity to delve into Ireland's past through various in-depth subjects such as history and politics, the Irish diaspora and its culture and social relations.

The aim of the course is to create an awareness of the ways Irish have both shaped and been shaped by other societies, including the U.S.

The Irish studies program will also expand on much broader Irish topics, including film, literature, music, dance, philosophy, theater, migration, globalization, regional integration and economic development; and colonialism, nationalism, armed conflict and peace processes.

The program has also developed a film series, lecture series, and community partnerships with Irish organizations based in Queens and Long Island.

The coordinators of the program at Hofstra, which offers students 145 undergraduate and more than 160 graduate programs, are Gregory Maney, associate professor of sociology, and Maureen Murphy, professor of curriculum and teaching.

Maney, an active member of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens County, studied politics and history in both Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin before receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2001.

Murphy, director of the Great Irish Famine curriculum (a program funded through a grant from the New York State Education Department) is well-known in the areas of Irish folklore and Irish literature.