‘Learning and development across the lifespan’

B.A. in Human and Organizational Development expands SOE beyond its core offering, prepares undergrads for employment opportunities in employee learning and development.

A group of people sit around a table. A woman reaches across the table to shake someone's hand.

By Sara Burns

Virginia Commonwealth University recently announced the creation of a new undergraduate program within the School of Education. The program, a B.A. in Human and Organizational Development, is designed to help students grow skills in planning and developing learning programs for adults in organizations such as corporations, non-profits, education and healthcare. It will also focus on preparing students for the workforce by developing their project management skills.

Robin R. Hurst, Ed.D., an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning and the program’s coordinator, was inspired to create the program when she attended a conference at the University Forum for Human Resource Development Research. There, she learned about a human resource development program at another university that caught her attention because she has such a deep appreciation for the field.

Following the conference, Hurst conducted a survey with members of the Association for Talent Development that included M. Ed. graduates, hiring managers, as well as other entry-level graduates, to see if a program like this would be useful to VCU. She also surveyed students at J. Sargeant Reynolds and John Tyler community colleges. All of the survey responses were very positive. That, plus encouraging employment projections, convinced Hurst to move forward.

“Educator preparation is at our core. However, we do offer many diverse programs that capture learning and development across the lifespan.”

“According to the Department of Labor Statistics, growth in the field of training and organizational development is expected to exceed 11%, far above the growth in most other fields, which is 7%,” Hurst said. “It’s the perfect time to provide this particular offering to our students.”

“More companies are looking for graduates who can design and manage online training and development programs,” said Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., dean and Ruth Harris Professor in the School of Education. “I’m so excited about this new program. Educator preparation is at our core. However, we do offer many diverse programs that capture learning and development across the lifespan.”

The new program is interdisciplinary, offering electives and prerequisites in various subjects. For example, economics, math, entry-level sociology, and writing are prerequisites for the program taken during the first two years of study. Electives include business, technology and study abroad. The program will also include practical and experiential learning by combining traditional classes with hands-on projects and internships, as well as a multicultural perspective to adult education through some of the classes and the study abroad option.

The B.A. in Human and Organizational Development program will be open for enrollment in Fall 2021. Students or prospective students who are interested in this program should visit the SOE website’s program page or reach out to their advisors for more information.