Human and Organizational Development

Human and Organizational Development (HOD) was my undergraduate major, and I loved it.  In fact, it's hard for me to imagine having majored in anything else.

I started as a Computer Science major, in the engineering school of my university.  It was clear immediately that I was not a computer science person or an engineer.  By the end of my first semester I was looking to transfer to a new school and major within my university.

There were a number of majors that I thought might be interesting, but two that really rose to the top; Religious Studies and HOD.  I ended up going with HOD, mostly because it seemed to have more "real world" application.

In retrospect that was definitely the right decision, but not for that reason.  I took a few religious studies classes, and while I enjoyed them, I don't think I would have thrived in the program.  It took a very traditional approach to academics; books, lectures, research and writing.

HOD, on the other hand, was a quirky program that offered room for flexibility and innovative approaches.  The program was multi-disciplinary in nature and included both theory and practice.  It was also based on a very humanistic set of values that emphasized ethical behaviour and an appreciation of human nature.  Finally, the program was very collaborative, with an emphasis on team work and people skills.

The program was also tolerant of students with life challenges, which definitely applied to me.  I was not a great student, and really struggled in college.  HOD was more supportive than I think most other programs at my university would have been.

It's hard to even begin describing all the important ideas I was introduced to in HOD.  Here's a brainstormed list:

  • Ethics
  • Economics
  • Counseling
  • Listening skills
  • Diversity
  • Career development
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork skills
  • Analysis and critical thinking
  • Tolerance of difference
  • Social Justice (although we didn't call it that)
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Presentation skills
  • Community 
  • Education
  • Human development
  • Real-world work experience
  • Conflict resolution
  • Systems thinking
  • Continual Improvement
  • Group dynamics

Of course, I didn't MASTER any of those topics.  But HOD planted seeds of knowledge and insight that deeply affected the course of my life.

It was through HOD that I built my closest relationship with a faculty member, Bruce "Woody" Caine.  I took four courses with him, and appreciated both what I learned in class and the fact that I got to know him at all.  Woody was also a self-professed feminist, and introduced me to some important gender issues.

It is through HOD that I got to spend a semester in England, which was a life changing experience.

It was through HOD that I met Dwight Giles, a faculty member I reconnected with in Boston, who has always been incredibly friendly and supportive, and who is a national guiding force for service learning.

In HOD I took a class on Multi-culturalism that blew my mind, and introduced me to important concepts of diversity.

I took a class on career development which shaped my concept of how careers worked, and gave me the tools I used to find my first two jobs after college.

In HOD I had my first service-learning experiences.  I worked at a pre-school on campus that was fully integrated between students with disabilities and students without.  It was an amazing experience, and introduced me to key ideas about disabilities.

For HOD I read a book called People Skills, which completely changed how I relate to other people, and was the cornerstone of all the friendships I made in college (that's NOT an exaggeration).

Those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head!

I often have second thoughts about attending the university I did.  In so many ways it just wasn't a good fit for me.  But there were two things that were undeniably right for me; the community service group I was in and HOD.

I am incredibly grateful for having had my HOD experience.  What I learned through the program had a tremendous impact on my values and the paths I've chosen to follow.

*Note About Assignments* I would love to post some of my old HOD work, but I don't have any of it in digital form.  Maybe eventually I can scan some of it to post on this site.