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The Mass Media

UMass Boston to open graduate School for Global Inclusion and Social Development

William+Kiernan%2C+director+of+the+Institute+for+Community+Inclusion%2C+will+be+the+first+dean+of+the+School+for+Global+Inclusion+and+Social+Development
William Kiernan, director of the Institute for Community Inclusion, will be the first dean of the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development

The University of Massachusetts Boston’s new School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGISD) will open for enrollment in January 2014. The graduate school will award masters and doctoral degrees in the areas of global inclusion and social development with concentrations in vision studies, transition leadership and rehabilitation counseling. The school’s dean will be William Kiernan, director of the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI).
Kiernan says the SGISD will focus on helping its graduates “develop leadership skills” that will prepare them to “impact the forefront of policy-work, education, and work towards increasing wellness, economic, and social development for excluded populations from women, ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities” to people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community.
The three concentrated areas of study could lead to jobs assisting people explore employment opportunities they hadn’t thought were available to them. Graduates could end up working to improve services to the blind or visually impaired, services for people with intellectual disabilities, or, Kiernan says, services for “veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and people with substance abuse issues or criminal histories.”
He added that graduates may find roles in public agencies, non-profit organizations, and humanitarian or international organizations such as the United Nations or the World Bank.
The concentrations may be obtained by studying the core group of six courses with an additional four to five toward the concentration. Students may also design their own area of concentration by combining five electives with the core. Students may cross-register, taking classes from UMass Boston’s other schools of study, and they are encouraged to do so.
Kiernan feels SGISD will attract students who have been studying health, human services, psychology, sociology, education, rehabilitation, or public policy and says that he would like to see students “who have an interest and exposure to the needs of our communities at large and desire to lead the movement towards creating wide-spread and improved solutions for inclusion.”
The master’s degree program is expected to begin in January 2014 with the doctoral program following in the fall. The school itself has been approved and at present date, the master’s and doctoral curricula are being reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee, the UMass Boston Faculty Council, UMass Board of Trustees and the Board of Education of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
According to the dean, the Master’s program will concentrate on application of policies, procedures and practices while encouraging the “implementation of evidence-based programs” in order to be effective in promoting inclusion.
The doctoral program, expected to open in September 2014, will focus primarily on local and global research-related issues, program development, and policy analysis. The ICI has already been involved in such projects.
In addition to the other programs of study and faculty at UMass Boston, SGISD is working to include resources outside of the university. Formal affiliation agreements are under development with the Center for Global Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Watertown-based Perkins School for the Blind, the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain, and Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
The connections are meant to provide students with opportunities to participate in a facility’s research projects, articles for publication, and online presentations. At present time, a graduate student from Salamanca plans to work on her dissertation, studying “a measurement in changes in quality of life,” while here on a summer internship.
The ICI is based at UMass Boston and partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital. The ICI has spent over forty years dedicating research, education and training to helping people with disabilities become active participants in their communities and improve their quality of life.
Although initially, the ICI was designed to assist people with intellectual disabilities, it has expanded to include the needs of people with other qualifying disabilities. The ICI now targets several areas, such as finding employment for people with disabilities, helping them gain access to a general education and then transition from school to adult life, and studying how today’s governmental policies affect disabled people and their families.
Dean Kiernan says SGISD will incorporate some of the ICI’s practices to help students recognize when and how exclusion targets select populations and creates a series of disadvantages to limit their equality of opportunity.