Since 1885, the tradition of Springfield College has been to educate outstanding leaders to serve our communities. Beginning with YMCA professionals, the mission expanded to include the fields of health and fitness, counseling, education, medicine, social work, and sports education in the College’s five schools. The School of Human Services (SHS), as the premier adult education degree program for human service workers, enhances the tradition with more than 35 years of experience in assessing and evaluating the educational needs of adult learners, designing programs and services that integrate the academic and social aspects of returning to school as adults, and respecting the cultural and ethnic diversity of the communities we serve.
SHS programs and services are adult-oriented. A convenient weekend schedule enables students to attend college full time while continuing workplace, family, and community commitments. Learning is enriched as students put into practice on Monday morning the skills and knowledge they acquired during the weekend classes. With three terms per year, the School offers an accelerated time frame for completing a degree. Combinations of residency credits, transfer credits, standardized test scores, and experiential learning assessment provide the flexibility needed to construct the type of program that highlights students’ strengths and experiences while it broadens and enriches their knowledge and skill base.
The curriculum focuses on leadership development and encourages students to discover and refine their sense of voice and personal empowerment as leaders to effect social change. They learn to think critically, write powerfully and effectively, and acquire research and action skills that foster collective work and responsibility. Both curriculum and teaching practices are designed to help students achieve their educational goals.
The SHS educational model actively involves students in collaborative learning: integrating life and work experiences with classroom learning; creating opportunities to learn from each other; and learning from faculty who are valued for their connections to workplaces and communities as well as their academic credentials. The experiential learning program guides students through the process of earning undergraduate credit for college-level experientially acquired knowledge. Group projects provide the opportunity to apply classroom theory to practice in the workplace and community. The SHS projects, student-designed and implemented, often play an active role in the community long after the “student” work is completed.
To assist students in fulfilling federally-mandated classroom hours in order to qualify for financial aid, the School incorporates a limited online component for each of its courses using the learning management system Moodle. This component is referred to as web-enhanced instruction, out-of-class interactive instruction allowing students and instructors to stay in contact with each other between monthly class sessions. In addition, the School offers a limited number of online courses each term to supplement the extensive offerings of campus-based or on ground courses. Designed to give students increased scheduling flexibility, the online courses bring students and faculty together virtually from multiple campuses.
Community and global partnerships have been an exciting part of the SHS experience from its inception with three campuses in New England. Since 1994, Springfield College and the YMCA of the USA have collaborated to bring SHS programs to urban areas served by YMCAs, resulting in a total of ten thriving campuses across the country. Local community partnerships bring educational and development opportunities to health workers in the greater Boston area, Head Start staff in the greater Philadelphia area, and youth workers in southern California. Global partnerships have resulted in degree programs in Sweden, Africa, and the Caribbean and leadership training modules in Brazil for the Brazilian Federation of YMCAs.