New minor in human development focuses on helping others

A new minor in human development at SUNY Oswego seeks to focus students in other liberal arts fields on understanding and working with people and human-services issues.

Dr. Dorothy Shedlock meets with peer adviser Alyssa O'Bryan“We are interested in how people develop through their lifespan, what their issues are and how we can help,” said psychology faculty member Dr. Dorothy Shedlock, director of the college’s human development major and the new minor.

The minor introduces research statistics and methods, but applies them to such real-world tasks as designing and improving human-services programs, evaluating them and addressing issues in prevention, intervention and public policy.

Alyssa O’Bryan, a senior human development major who serves as a peer adviser, said she would counsel students in such majors as public justice, education or sociology that adding a human development minor would give them new insights that move far beyond the borders of campus.

“Students will become more aware of current issues that surround them and they will also become more accepting of those who aren’t like them,” O’Bryan said. “I think that acceptance is something that we lack in society and it has led us to greater problems like bullying and wars. Having diverse areas of understanding or expertise can lead to acceptance and tolerance, and also make a student more valuable to a company or agency.”

Enhancing skills

Shedlock said most in the new minor so far are public justice majors. She said students in any other disciplines focused on people, particularly those less fortunate, can enhance skills needed for graduate school or careers in human services, law, medicine or clinical social work, among others.

“We are interested in global diversity and social issues like poverty,” she said.

For example, to spur interest in global issues, Shedlock said she is proposing that students in the human development major and minor take on a project like BeadforLife, which offers jewelry and other products made by Ugandan women to help them build sustainable businesses and fight poverty in that African nation.

The human-development minor is multidisciplinary; each student signs a learning agreement with his or her adviser to take several electives outside the core coursework relevant to the student’s personal goals, she said. Applicable electives could include “Human Anatomy and Physiology,” “Drug Use and Abuse in Society” and “International Perspectives on Women,” among others.

While field work is not required, students in the minor would be encouraged to apply through Oswego’s Experience-Based Education program for any of more than 400 internships related to human development, more than 120 of which deal with children.

SUNY Oswego, a comprehensive college with four schools—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Education and School of Communication, Media and the Arts—has more than 110 majors and minors. For more information, visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Helping hands—Dr. Dorothy Shedlock, right, director of human development at SUNY Oswego, talks with Alyssa O’Bryan, a senior human development major and peer adviser, about a new minor in human development. Shedlock said human development focuses on applying a scientific approach to, among other things, improving human-services programs dealing with such global issues as poverty.

(Posted: Oct 10, 2013)