Students now have the option to minor in child development, a new addition to the curriculum that educates undergraduates on the well-being of children.The Institute of Child Development is a multidisciplinary program comprised of eight departments for undergraduate students who desire to work with children in their careers.
The departments participating in the minor include child development, psychology, education, nursing, social work, nutrition, sociology, criminal justice and communication sciences and disorders. The minor requires 18 hours of coursework from three of the different departments, including the department of the student’s major.
Angie Walston, program/outreach coordinator of the institute in the psychology department, said integration of different departments is necessary to focus on a child as a whole.
“Our hope is to train students to become professionals who understand all the different elements of a child,” Walston said. “Therefore, they can provide services that address all the child’s needs.”
Case Studies in Child Development is the only course the minor requires, said Jackie Pennings, research coordinator of the institute in the psychology department.
“Each lecture in case studies will cover a new perspective from the different departments,” she said.
Two new courses, Vulnerable Child One – Theory, and Vulnerable Child Two – Practice and Application, train students to work with children and orphans who have been harmed, Pennings said.
Karyn Purvis, the director of the institute, worked for many years with children and held a summer camp for internationally adopted children from 1999-2003. There she developed a theory of looking at the whole child.
“The picture (Purvis) often paints is that traditional services for children are given in a disjointed way,” Walston said. “Students taking the minor will be well-equipped to work with children from every aspect.”
Courtney Dowling, a senior psychology major, said she is disappointed she is going to miss the opportunity to minor in child development.
“I wish that the minor was here when I was going through,” Dowling said. “I want to go into child psychology.”
The child development minor is not just for people within the eight departments, but for anyone who desires to work with children or even have children in the future.
“We are hoping this will send a set of students out into the workforce to help children who are neglected or abused,” Pennings said.