Create your future. Shape your world.
Human Development and Social Relations (HDSR) is an interdisciplinary major that draws on the liberal arts to prepare students for engaging with social issues and for effecting personal and social change. Combining the approaches of psychology, sociology, anthropology and philosophy, students learn how to work with individuals and groups within larger organizational settings and to appreciate diverse perspectives and cultures. The program emphasizes practical experience and theoretical perspectives, as well as reflection on the role of values and ethics in professional life.
The Program's foundation lies in a firm understanding of both individual persons and contemporary social systems, an understanding that cannot be attained through the study of a single discipline. By examining social issues and problems in all their complexity, students integrate various disciplines to imagine a more just society.
Many HDSR courses involve experiential learning within both the classroom and the larger community. In addition, students complete a field study consisting of 200 hours of experience in organizations such as schools, clinics, camps, businesses, government, and other public and private organizations. These field studies provide opportunities to integrate theory gained in the classroom with experience gained in the field setting. Students spend an additional semester reflecting on their experiences and writing a substantial paper that analyzes their field studies using various theoretical tools learned in their core classes.
HDSR is a diverse major, offering a focused liberal education that can be applied to virtually any career or graduate program. Regardless of career path, HDSR graduates bring to their work a service and people-oriented perspective, and an ability to analyze and respond to problems creatively.
Graduates of the program enter fields such as public health, education, social advocacy, medicine, law, social work, counseling, public administration, journalism and ministry. HDSR graduates have pursued a variety of careers: research psychologist at a substance abuse research center, marketing executive in the New York headquarters of a Japanese corporation, family practice physician, chief of police, pastry chef, program officer for a philanthropic foundation in Manhattan, social worker in an AIDS/HIV clinic and attorney for a victims' rights group.
A majority of HDSR graduates attend graduate or professional schools, usually matriculating in their first choice program, and believe that their HDSR major made graduate work easier and more successful. According to HEDS data, Earlham is ranked 46th (in the 96th percentile) among 1,469 institutions of higher learning in the U.S. in the percentage of graduates who go on to receive Ph.D.s in the human service professions.
Studying the Japanese tea ceremony, our students learn to brew their experience using the same values that shape Earlham. Kento Ichikawa ’12 was surprised by how the values of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility overlap.
When Sarah Burks arrived at Earlham, she had no idea what to major in. She explored a wide variety of interests before deciding to major in Human Development and Social Relations (HDSR) and minor in Psychology.