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Sociology

Sociology Major with a Concentration In Human Services

What is the Concentration in Human Services?
What are the Field Education Internships like?
What else would be helpful to know about the CHS?
What are the admission application requirements for the Concentration in Human Services?
Do you want to travel and study abroad?

What is the Concentration in Human Services?

Students enjoying a break during the Ropes Course 2003
Students enjoying a break during
the Ropes Course

The Concentration in Human Services (CHS) is a comprehensive educational program that prepares students for generalist practice in the field of human services. Students are prepared to work with people throughout the life span. The focus is on people, who face a variety of needs and issues, e.g., poverty, discrimination, crime, developmental and psychiatric disability, interpersonal violence, and substance abuse. In addition, the CHS has a distinct focus on advocacy, international social welfare, social justice, and human rights. Graduates work with children, youth, and adults in, for example, children’s homes, criminal justice agencies, runaway and domestic violence shelters, nursing homes, day treatment centers, and community-based residences. Graduates also work in social justice and preventative settings and have gone on to graduate programs in fields such as social work, school and mental health counseling, law, special education, criminal justice, and international human rights.

Some of the main features of the Concentration in Human Services are three supervised field education internships, staying together as a group throughout the educational process, and an emphasis on arts and recreation.

The Concentration in Human Services is inspired by European social pedagogy/social education and influenced by critical pedagogy with an emphasis on self-directed learning.

What are the Field Education Internships like?

Students sharing their Life Lines
Students sharing their Life Lines

Students do their field education internships in a variety of human services agencies, including domestic violence shelters, residential treatment facilities and runaway shelters for children and youth, community residences for adults with developmental or psychiatric disabilities, and criminal justice settings, such as maximum security prisons for men, probation or minimum security correctional facilities for women. Field education settings also include daycare centers and schools for children with and without special needs as well as daycare, advocacy programs, and nursing homes for the elderly. Students are afforded the opportunity to do their internships in a variety of advocacy and social justice programs as well as in programs that utilize arts and recreation and animal assisted therapies.

Students choose their field education placements in collaboration with the college human services faculty and are expected to do their internships in a variety of agencies diversifying their experiences. Intensive individual and group supervision is a main feature in the field education experience.
Students do three consecutive field education placements of each 104 hours (8 hours a week for 13 weeks) while also attending the three consecutive Field Education and Human Services Theory and Practice courses.

All current and previous students highlight the field education component of the CHS as the most important part of their educational experience. The field education placements afford students an opportunity to truly experience “real life” before graduating, to explore which populations and agency settings they prefer, to rule out what they do not prefer, and to guide them in their future career choices.

What else would be helpful to know about the CHS?

Adventure Based Ropes Course: Balancing the Raft
Adventure Based Ropes Course: Balancing the Raft

Although students certainly study and read about group dynamics, they actually LIVE it in their educational process. They stay together for three to four semesters as a cohort, often more than five hours a week. This cohort experience affords students the opportunity to learn to work together, experience together, have fun and work out differences together and, very importantly, learn from each other.

Students have a variety of learning experiences both inside and outside of class. For example, every semester, we go on field trips. Some of the field trips include: visits to residential treatment centers for children, who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect; visits to agencies serving people with developmental disabilities; and a trip to New York City, where we visit a child welfare program that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning young people in foster care. While in New York City, we also tour the United Nations and attend a briefing on human rights. Exploring and understanding human rights are an integral part of the CHS. All field trips augment the learning process in the classroom and serve to further strengthen the cohort experience.

Becoming Friends: CHS Student in NYC
Becoming Friends: CHS Student in NYC

The requirement to build knowledge and skills in the area of arts and recreation is also an integral part of the CHS. Although we consider verbal counseling skills paramount to the practice of any human service professional, we value the use of arts and recreation as equally important. “Doing with” people is an amazing opportunity to build relationships and rapport and it provides people with competence and skills. We continuously do a lot of class exercises to demonstrate the use of the arts and recreation and students are encouraged to take one to two expressive arts courses, which have been developed specifically for CHS students.

Finally, an international social welfare perspective is integrated into every aspect of the CHS (see below for more information regarding our International Social Welfare course). Expanding our knowledge and learning about other cultures further prepare CHS students to take on the challenges that they will face once they are in the field working with a diversity of people and issues.

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What are the admission application requirements for the Concentration in Human Services

Students interested in majoring in Sociology with the Concentration in Human Services must submit an admission application by March 15 (for fall enrollment) or October 15 (for spring enrollment). The admission application is available in the Sociology Department and on the Concentration in Human Services website.

The Concentration in Human Services consists of courses offered consecutively during the student’s junior and senior year. The first course in the Concentration in Human Services, Introduction to Human Services, is offered fall, spring, and summer but the core courses in the sequence begin in the spring semester only.   In order to apply, you must already have been accepted to or be a current student at SUNY New Paltz and have completed 30 credits of college level courses with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

Do you want to travel and study abroad?

Students visiting the United Nations
Students visiting the United Nations

In addition to the required courses, the Concentration in Human Services (CHS) also offers an International Social Welfare course every summer to Denmark, Italy or South Africa to study human services practices and the overall social welfare system. These courses are 2-3 weeks long and count as either Sociology Elective or CHS Cognate courses. The course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Human services practitioners and educators are also welcome! The course has been approved as an advanced elective at several Masters in Social Work programs as well as in other graduate programs.

We encourage students to study abroad a semester and will work with each student individually to make sure all major course requirements are fulfilled.