In 2012-13 a new Human Services Studies curriculum will be introduced, despite the fact it's already one of the most popular and fastest-growing majors on campus. We spoke with Dr. Karen Neal, Associate Professor of Psychology and the head of the Department of Human Services Studies and Dr. Saundra Penn, Assistant Professor of Human Services Studies, about the changes.
What was behind the decision to revise the Human Services Studies curriculum?
The human services field has so much to offer; we wanted our curriculum to better reflect the diversity of our field. We prepare students for a profession of helping, with all of its ethical and social complexity.
Today's students need to understand the homeless with their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, and they also need to understand how to facilitate the optimal development of teenage parents. They must understand veterans and seniors attempting to navigate complicated systems of healthcare, and they also need to understand how to advocate for the policy changes needed to make those previously incarcerated successful in their work and personal lives.
We've very fortunate here in Charlotte that we have a number of diverse agencies in which our students gain invaluable hands-on experience. The new curriculum better prepares them for their internships and capstone projects. It's also critical that our alumni be prepared for every graduate program in the helping professions and this new curriculum really meets that goal.
How exactly does the new program differ from the previous curriculum?
Our course selection is more diverse and we're teaching courses designed to help our students develop better helping skills, like interviewing, group facilitation and case management. All of this is essential to our students' professional development in the field.
What do you think is special about your human services studies majors?
What's special is our majors themselves. They have a real passion for helping others. They want to understand the issues faced by individuals, groups, and societies, and they're driven to develop the skills to work directly with people to improve lives. They're also very passionate advocates who work to develop and change policy to provide lasting, evidenced-based outcomes at both the state and national level.
You've mentioned that Queens' students have excellent internships and capstone projects with local agencies. Will you tell us more about that?
The variety of internship and capstone partnerships available to Queens' students here in Charlotte cannot be overemphasized. I know of no other four-year human services program in the country with such a vast array of placements for undergraduates. Our students have done everything from working as courtroom advocates for victims of domestic violence to providing research at a shelter for homeless people just released from the hospital to creating programming for an emergency shelter for children and teens. This type of hands-on experience is a hallmark of our program.
What's the story behind the infographic?
Isn't it terrific? It was developed by a graphic design student here at Queens named Morgan Russell, class of 2015. Her goal was to highlight all the important elements of the major and we believe she did so, brilliantly!