Human Development and Social Relations, Academics | Earlham College
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Human Development & Social Relations:
Promoting Justice and Effecting Change

Overview   |   Meet an Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  


Human Development and Social Relations (HDSR) at Earlham helps our students understand individuals in the context of contemporary social systems.

As a students in HDSR, you will learn to study social issues and problems from a wide variety of disciplines, including psychology, sociology and anthropology.

By focusing on interdisciplinary and experiential learning within the classroom and larger community, our students develop a service- and people-oriented perspective, as well as the ability to analyze and respond to problems creatively.

A coherent, integrated core of six common courses allows HDSR majors to form strong bonds with each other and with program faculty as well as building a strong sense of community that promotes mutual learning.

More from the Human Development and Social Relations Department:


HDSR Field Studies provide our majors with hands-on experience working with social issues in real life settings like a school for immigrant children, a theater group in London, an inner-city recreation center, a middle school in Japan, and a family counseling center in Northern Ireland.

HDSR students have the opportunity to present their work at Earlham's Annual Research Conference and other public forums.

Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide variety of fields, including education, social work, business, law, counseling, health care and public administration.

Meet An Earlhamite

Maryia Pupko
Child of Chernobyl

Maryia Pupko is proof that good comes from even the worst disasters. The compassion she experienced after her mother's death has inspired her to advocate for the otherwise disregarded.

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Howard Ly
A Calling for Counseling

Howard Ly ’18 is serving in the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience, better known as PULSE, which selects recent graduates to work in nonprofits to transform Pittsburgh in a yearlong service and leadership program.

Read More
Arlo Townsley
No Ivory Tower for Arlo

Being at Earlham has helped Arlo Townsley ’20 realize how much he took for granted back home on his family’s organic farm in rural Wisconsin.

Read More

Our Faculty

Nelson Bingham
Professor Emeritus of Psychology; Special Adviser to the College

Nora Taplin-Kaguru
Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

Plan of Study

The Major

Students majoring in HDSR complete the following:

Six Core Courses

  • HDSR 239 Persons & Systems
  • SOAN 345 Social Research Methods
  • HDSR 349 Theory, Ethics and Social Justice
  • HDSR 363 Field Study
  • HDSR 488 Senior Capstone
  • HDSR 489 Senior Seminar

Two Disciplinary Courses

  • In Psychology:
    PSYC 115 Introduction to Psychological Perspectives
    PSYC 116 Behavior, Health Care and Society
  • In Sociology/Anthropology:
    SOAN 115 Anthropology in a Global Context
    SOAN 118 Inequalities, Power and Society

Student Choose Three Courses from One Focus Area

Focus I: Diversity & Social Justice Focus

  • AAAS/HIST 324 Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.
  • AAAS/HIST 356 The Civil Rights Movement
  • ECON 345 Urban Political Economy
  • AAAS/HIST 369 African American History Since Emancipation
  • HIST 351 Workplace Justice: Readings in U.S. Labor History
  • PAGS/MGMT 343 Conflict Resolution
  • PSYC 344 Psychology of Gender
  • PSYC 356 Psychology of Prejudice
  • PSYC 362 Cross Cultural Psychology
  • PSYC 364 Psychology of Women
  • SOAN 215 Identity and Social Movements
  • SOAN 310 Surveillance and Society
  • SOAN/PAGS 314 Colonialism, Post Colonialism and Settler Colonialism
  • SOAN 327 Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Justice
  • SOAN 368 Economy of Development: Discourse and Desire
  • WGSS 305 Radical Que(e)ries
  • A Topic Course may qualify, please check with your adviser.

Focus II: Health and Wellness Focus

  • PSYC 363 Developmental Psychopathology
  • PSYC 368 Human Sexuality
  • PSYC 372 Psychology of Sport
  • PSYC 374 Counseling Psychotherapy
  • PSYC 376 Health Psychology
  • PSYC 377 Positive Psychology
  • PSYC 378 Psychoactive Drugs and Behavior
  • SOAN 333 Medical Anthropology and Global Health
  • SOAN 335 Health, Medicine and Society
  • Students with this focus are strongly encouraged to take at least one Biology course.
  • A Topic Course may qualify, please check with your adviser.

Focus III: Social Institutions Focus

  • AAAS/REL 330 Criminal Justice and Moral Vision
  • CIL 248 Theory and Practice of Education
  • HIST 351 Workplace Justice: Readings in U.S. Labor History
  • MGMT 203 Human Behavior in Organizations
  • POLS 342 Congress and Public Policy
  • POLS 343 Legislative Toolkit
  • POLS 366 American Political Thought
  • PSYC 230 Human Development
  • PSYC 366 Cradle and Grave
  • PSYC 373 Moral Education
  • PSYC 375 Foster Care in the U.S.
  • SOAN 118 Inequalities, Power and Society
  • SOAN 309 Sociology of Social Media
  • SOAN 310 Surveillance and Society
  • SOAN 335 Health, Medicine and Society
  • SOAN 356 Social Deviance
  • SOAN 368 Economy of Development: Discourse and Desire
  • A Topic Course may qualify, please check with your adviser.


* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

Designed for first-year students but open to those considering a major in HDSR. Examines individuals in relationship to society and how different disciplines analyze this relationship and propose solutions to the problems they identify. Students complete an experiential learning group project that involves interviewing staff and consumers of local agencies and businesses.

This course introduces HDSR students to the theoretical and ethical perspectives and tools that they will need to conduct and analyze their field study experience, as well as to prepare for careers in the human services and beyond. Students will build an intellectual foundation in classical and contemporary social theory and will explore various ethical approaches to determining what is fair and just in our global society. Prerequisite: HDSR 239. (D-D, W, WI)

HDSR 363 FIELD STUDY (0–3 credits)
Provides a first-hand opportunity to integrate theory gained in the classroom with insights into and experience in the workings of an organization. Helps students become more conscious of the relationship of social roles, institutional dynamics and professional development. Students complete 200 hours of work at a site of their choosing, in consultation with the HDSR Program Coordinator. Prerequisites: HDSR 239 and 359. (RCH)

HDSR 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study.


Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.

HDSR 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor.

This class provides a context for completing the HDSR Senior Thesis. In addition, it serves as a “bridge experience” to the post-college world of graduate school and career.

HDSR 489 SENIOR SEMINAR (1 credit)
The core focus of this course is to help HDSR students meet their second Capstone Requirement, the Reflective Essay. In general, this course and essay will help students reflect on what they have learned through the program and help them be thoughtful and intentional about what they want to do in the future, personally and professionally. Prerequisites: HDSR 488.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.