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Message from the Dean
June 5, 2020
As the academic year ends, we are faced with stark evidence of the cultural, historical and intergenerational traumas impacting Black Americans, while collectively coping with the stressors and repercussions of a global pandemic and economic crisis.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery bring intense and overwhelming feelings such as anger, sadness and fear. We find ourselves here again and again-for hundreds of years. The obligation to examine and alter the problematic systemic structures that hinder the health and well-being of our community and its members stands in sharp relief.
The School of Social Sciences represents disciplines united by the study of human behavior, society and social relationships. The knowledge inherent in these disciplines prepares students to engage in the quest for active social change, including the work of racial equity and anti-racism. Our disciplines are primed to help us engage in the work needed to dismantle systemic, structurally based patterns of discrimination and oppression. They call us to explore how our policies, practices, and assumptions contribute to existing inequities. Within them, we strive to find answers to questions about how to create lasting and meaningful change and to build a society permeated by justice, equality and respect for human rights. As highlighted in the racial healing work of Dr. Gail C. Christopher and the Kellogg Foundation, we must challenge systems that place hierarchy on human value (https://healourcommunities.
In addition, our disciplines grew out of embedded belief systems, many of which contribute to the problems we see today. For this reason we are also called upon to examine and transform our disciplines; to be willing to have our beliefs and ideas challenged. Much is to be gained by exploring how our conscious and unconscious beliefs may limit the opportunities of others.
As a psychologist, I am aware that a key factor distinguishing a stressful situation and a traumatic one is that, with trauma, there is a feeling of helplessness or lack of control. In trauma, calls for help go unheeded. There is a strong human need for social support, which includes the need to be heard and rendered visible. We can no longer fail to acknowledge the realities of violence and institutional racism that marginalize Black Americans. We can no longer ignore the harmful impact of the continual toxic stress besieging Black Americans. In the words of therapist and author Tahmi Perzichilli, “white denial of racial trauma is the breath of racism.” As such, it is imperative that we commit to creating space for the marginalized voices in our community to be truly heard. This entails acknowledgement of privilege and openness to racial humility.
Members of our school community are poised and ready to engage in this vital work. With Determination and Hope, Maureen
The School of Social Sciences offers knowledge and skills that prepare our graduates to live richly rewarding personal, professional, and social lives while understanding and appreciating human complexity in a global society.
About the School
The school contributes to the political, economic, and cultural literacy of its citizens while expanding and preserving knowledge.It is a regional center for active social change and human betterment, advocacy, and planning. The school maintains an environment conducive to personal and professional growth attained through equality, shared governance, and open communication.
The School of Social Sciences provide an excellent preparation for living and working in our increasingly complex, globalized world. Social Scientists focus on understanding human behavior. Though the general focus is the same--understanding why people do the things they do--the complexity of human behavior requires a wide range of approaches and methods to understand it. This is reflected in the range of departments and programs that comprise the School. A degree in social sciences prepares you for many jobs. But more importantly, it prepares you for a career and a life. Skills such as creative complex solving, critical thinking, intercultural skills, applied knowledge in real-world settings, written and oral communication skills, and the ability to work with others are not only fundamental to many positions and roles in life, but are skills and abilities most frequently cited by employers.
Students in Social Sciences will find:
- Faculty dedicated to student success
- Opportunities to gain hands on real-world experiences
- An emphasis on community engagement supported by internship opportunities
- Opportunities to participate in and contribute in faculty research
- Socially conscious/socially active faculty and students