Unique HSU Degree Gains Unanimous Reaccreditation - Humboldt State Now

Unique HSU Degree Gains Unanimous Reaccreditation

The Department of Sociology’s Master’s Degree in Public Sociology, Ecological Justice and Action at Humboldt State University, one of only two such programs nationwide, has been reaccredited until 2017 as a “very innovative and successful” curriculum.

The Commission on Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology awarded the degree full accreditation by a unanimous vote. The panel is headquartered at the University of Connecticut. It lauded the HSU Sociology faculty’s professionalism and activism; the program’s graduate student/community involvement; its creation of an integral 20-member community advisory board “that is very helpful to students as well as community members;” and its high quality computer laboratory.

“Students appreciate the way faculty members have helped them each develop a plan of study,” the commission stated in part, “and say the approach has been very useful in helping them decide on academic and career goals.”

Alumna and doctoral candidate Sheila Pierre (’10) said, “HSU’s Sociology Department prepared me for the intense workload I have faced so far at the University of Connecticut, particularly when it comes to practicing sociology and research. HSU definitely helped in terms of preparation and discipline” for a Ph.D.

First accredited in 2004, Humboldt State’s two-year Master’s in Public Sociology, Ecological Justice and Action equips students for careers in research, business, government and non-profit organizations. Public sociologists are trained as hands-on practitioners, developing their skills in the field.

Usually such field placements differ from the familiar internships found in other academic programs. “In most instances, our Public Sociology master’s students bring skills and resources into organizations that are otherwise unavailable,” says Department Chair Mary Virnoche. “Our students get to put their new skills to use, and organizations in this remote location on the Redwood Coast get talented and committed social scientists on their teams.”

Sociology Professor Sheila Steinberg, the department’s graduate coordinator, explains, “What sets us apart is that we get our students out into the community to work for social change in real life on relevant issues like diversity, homeless youth, poverty and inequality. Public Sociology takes the discipline and its students outside the walls of the academy. You’re making a difference as you study for your degree. Each one of our graduate students has to put in 240 hours working in a placement, either here at the University or in the community. Their master’s thesis or master’s project is tied to that. For example, one of our current students is placed with CCRP,” the California Center for Rural Policy, a research unit on campus. “In the past we’ve had students place with the Raven Project, Redwood Roots Farm and the HSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion.”

Virnoche adds, “Many of our graduate students come into our program specifically interested in social change. Our program is designed to assure students they get the tools they need to effect that change—a sociological ‘lens’ that shapes their perspectives and social research skills.”

Applications are being accepted for Spring and Fall 2011 admissions and Steinberg can be reached for details at 826-4563 or ss51@humboldt.edu.