Some People Skills Are Now Graduate-Level Fields of Study

By | November 23, 2016

The study of people and their behavior is just as fascinating as learning about technology, processes, systems or the natural world. Some disciplines embrace understanding inner mental workings, such as psychology. Additionally, sociology is one field addressing human behavior in groups. These disciplines have helped inspire more complex fields of study such as conflict resolution and social administration. There are plenty of curricula available for those who wish to understand both individual and group behavior, and apply this knowledge in an organizational environment.

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The Growing Field of Social Administration
The field of social work owes its existence to 19th century pioneers inspired to take action to help correct social problems and injustices. From these earlier roots, the practice has burgeoned into a discipline with multiple possibilities for service. As the field grew, so did the need for managers and administrators to help with the provision of resources for those in need and administrating public services. In many instances, the desired end is to connect underserved and in-crisis people with aid in the form of both tangible benefits and organizations to serve them.
In response to these needs, degree programs train professionals for leadership or service roles. Courses of study such as the Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) cater to students who already work full-time. The online versions typically connect a cohort of learners to share a virtual classroom, sometimes accessing it asynchronously or participating in live, real-time discussions. Depending on the degree program, students can opt for a learning path that focuses on imparting the knowledge and skills to lead and organize comprehensive, large-scale social change or for directly working with clients.
New Programs Teach Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation
Conflicts between humans are as old as humanity itself. However, our modern environments add a new dimension of complexities to many kinds of interpersonal issues. Common workplace conflicts, according to the Canadian HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, arise from a variety of causes such as:

a clash of values;
a desire to maintain power or influence;
issues with resources;
incompatible interpersonal differences;
inequities within an organization; and,
pressures precipitated by the external environment.

These challenges are what programs such as the Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation at Abilene Christian University (ACU) were created to address. Focusing on skills such as listening, assessing each situation and addressing problems instead of people, these courses of study offer a master’s level degree in exchange for classroom learning and some practical experience. Even if you don’t work in a multi-level large organization, your skills become useful in both public and private sector contexts, such as employment relations, mediation and negotiation and marital dispute resolution.
Moving Forward, People Remain an Important Focus
Even as STEM fields advance further by new developments in technology and academics, a significant need for leadership, management and conflict resolution remains. Interpersonal relationships, as well as organizational human behavior, continue to power the inner and outer workings of small groups and large-scale entities. Furthermore, the modern era contains many intricacies that apply to every human interaction. That’s why disciplines such as social administration and conflict resolution continue to develop, with plenty of career opportunities for skilled and educated professionals.

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