Students who are members of the first cohort come from a wide range of undergraduate and professional training, but they all have in common a desire for helping to make positive change in their communities, whether that change emphasizes the environment or social conditions. The SRSC master's program is designed with maximum flexibility so that students can tailor their program of study to meet their personal and career goals. The SRSC emphasizes community-based research, social justice as it applies to the environment and to communities, and social responsibility in terms of engagement with real-world problems and their solutions. The SRSC would not be suitable for careers that require a specific degree, such as community-based counseling, which would require a degree such as an M.S. in Social Work.
The following are just a few of the positions that can benefit from this program:
According to the 2010-2011 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment in community and social services occupations is projected to increase by 16 percent, growing by roughly 448,400 jobs. Total employment nationwide is expected to increase by 10%, so the opportunities in the community and social services occupations are well above the average.
In Kentucky, total employment is projected to increase by 148,700 jobs, or 7.5 percent, while the jobs in the Community and Social Services occupations is expected to grow by 13.99%. The educational level needed for most of these jobs is a Master's degree (Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2020, by the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet).
In an EduVentures study of directors of community development agencies, respondents spoke of the importance of developing a "consciousness" about social responsibility and the ability to "think critically about issues, how they relate to their organization and others, . . . and to apply a broad world view to their assessment." The interdisciplinary nature of this program, and its emphasis on theoretical and practical knowledge, will ensure that students will be able to apply such skills to their work in sustainability and community development. The MA addresses the AACU claim that "students face a rapidly changing and ever more interconnected world, in which integrative learning becomes not just a benefit...but a necessity."