School of Education adds ‘human social development’ as new major

This semester the School of Education added a new major to its Department of Psychological and Educational Studies: human and social development.

Ora Prilleltensky and Stephanie Schmitz, both of whom are lecturers of Educational and Psychological Studies in the School of Education, co-chaired the effort to found the new major. Prilleltensky, now the major coordinator, said that human and social development was created to meet an important community need.

“When we talk about human and social development in psychology, we talk about how people develop over their lifespan – cognitively, socially, emotionally and so on,” Prilleltensky said. “The focus of our major is how to emphasize lifespan human development as it unfolds in families, neighborhoods, communities, and how to promote healthy development and well-being at those levels.”

In addition to heading the creation of this new major, Prilleltensky also co-teaches a required foundational course with Isaac Prilleltensky, the dean of the School of Education. The course, EPS 201, Psychosocial Change and Well-Being, teaches students about the nature and concept of well-being.

“Well-being is that sense of not just surviving, but thriving,” Prilleltensky said. “It’s the sense of being satisfied and fulfilled with one’s life.”

Shawn Post, associate dean of the School of Education, believes this major will help students make a difference beyond college. According to The Occupational Outlook Handbook, a reference about occupations with information compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, human services is one of the fastest growing fields.

“It’s going to help students interested in working with non-profits, social services, and counseling tracks,” Post said. “We want students to understand how they can be effective agents of change.”

Human and social development has received support not only from Post, but from other members of the university community as well. Despite being introduced to the curriculum only two months ago, everyone from students and faculty all the way up to university administration has expressed interest. This positive feedback has Prilleltensky excited for the future.

“We really feel that we are highly supported going forward in this,” Prilleltensky said. “This is like a project and it’s going to evolve. I’m just looking forward to the journey.”

Anyone interested in learning more about human and social development should contact Robin Shane, the director of Undergraduate Academic Services at the School of Education.