The UC Irvine School of Social Ecology strives to develop future leaders equipped with solid communication, critical thinking, analytical, technological, and interpersonal skills through experiential field study opportunities. These opportunities prepare students to tackle the pressing issues confronting business and community leaders locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Since 1970, Field Study has been a requirement for students seeking a baccalaureate degree from Social Ecology and is an element of the school’s commitment to training future leaders.
Field Study is designed to provide students with the opportunity to
- examine social problems,
- evaluate the merit of ideas presented in the classroom,
- learn and practice methods of naturalistic field research, data collection, theory testing, or program evaluation, and social intervention,
- develop interpersonal and professional skills and technical competencies,
- participate in the ongoing activities of an organization.
Through field study upper-division students and faculty engage with our community to study issues, build capacity and impact social change. Community partners gain valuable insight and fresh perspectives through engaging with the students they place in their organization, while building organizational capacity at the same time. They impact the students’ learning by sharing their organization’s mission, history and objectives. Many field study students continue to volunteer with the organization after their field study is completed.
To fulfill the field study requirement, students complete 100 hours of required field work with an approved community partner while concurrently engaged in a small group seminar facilitated by ladder-rank faculty. Optionally, students may complete up to 600 hours to fulfill elective credits. The co-curricular approach is based on evidence that learning is maximized when it is active, when students are engaged, and when theories and research are informed by their application to “real world” problems. Having students reflect on how to apply what they learn in the classroom to addressing societal challenges facilitates personal and professional growth, and deepens understanding of linkages between theory and practice, producing more informed and engaged business and civic leaders.
Annually, more than 40 faculty offer the field study course to more than 900 students. Students complete the seminar and field work through placements at one of 225+ approved community partners (42% non-profit, 41% public sector, 17% private sector). In order to ensure a quality experience for our students, community partners and faculty, the School has established a field study advisory board. Students, community partners, alumni, faculty and school administration are represented on the board and provide valuable insight, ideas and advice from their perspective.