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What makes an education in the social sciences at Hope College distinctive? How is Hope different?

Why are the social sciences important in your education? Why should you consider an academic major in one of the social science disciplines? The social sciences may be right for you if….

Model UN
Developmental Psychology
Outside Martha Miller

  • You’re interested in how families function most effectively, and how government, the church, and other elements of society can help strengthen families.
  • You’re interested in why some businesses succeed and others fail.
  • You’re interested in how government and other agents of public policy work – or don’t work – to create a free and just society.
  • You’re interested in how power and privilege help some people succeed and hold others back.
  • You’re interested in how the rise of digital media threatens children’s health – both here and around the world.
  • You’re interested in how people learn – or why they don’t.
  • You’re interested in why so few people seem to be able to change habits related to exercise, diet, and substance use.
  • You’re interested in how people make political choices in their communities, on the national scene, and throughout the world.
  • You’re interested in how different people draw different conclusions when they hear the same message.
  • You’re interested in helping others by working with individuals or groups.

What makes an education in the social sciences at Hope College distinctive from other colleges? How is Hope different?

National recognition and reputation. Three programs in the social sciences at Hope College are nationally accredited – Athletic Training, Education, and Social Work. For three consecutive years the Education Department has ranked in the "excellent" range of Teacher Education programs in Michigan.

Council on Social Work Education

Schaap Science CenterOutstanding facilities.

In 2004 a $36 million renovation and expansion was completed of the Psychology Department’s home – the A. Paul Schaap Science Center.

DeVos Fieldhouse

The $22 million DeVos Fieldhouse provides the Kinesiology Department with one of the nation’s finest teaching and learning facilities for exercise science, physical education and athletic training.

Martha Miller Center

The $12 million Martha Miller Center for Global Communication houses the Department of Communication and its state of the art teaching and media production facilities.

Van Zoeren Hall

Sociology, Social Work, Economics, Management, Accounting, and Education are housed in Van Zoeren Hall – connected directly to Hope's Van Wylen Library – recently ranked the top undergraduate library in the country.

Lubbers Hall

Political Science is located in historic Lubbers Hall which was recently renovated from top to bottom.

Outstanding faculty and affiliated programs. Social science faculty at Hope College are among the most accomplished in their respective fields. Below are a few examples of the people who will guide your learning and exemplary programs in our Division.

  • Professor Virginia Beard was one of 15 scholars nationwide chosen to participate in the 2012 Lilly Fellows Program Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers, “Teaching Peace and Reconciliation: Theory and Practice in Northern Ireland" at the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. The program is sponsored by Aquinas College through the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts.
  • Provost and Kinesiology professor Dr. Richard Ray co-authored a fourth edition of his book Management Strategies in Athletic Training, published by Human Kinetics.
  • Psychology professor Dr. Gwenda Schmidt and three of her research students received the 2012 Social Science Young Investigator's Award. This award recognizes excellent collaborative research by junior faculty which develops the skills of critical inquiry and analysis in her/his students.
  • Economics professor Todd Steen co-edited Don W. King's book, Taking Every Thought Captive: Forty Years of the Christian Scholar's Review, published by Abilene Christian University Press.
  • Professor of Education Laura Pardo co-authored QAR Comprehension Lessons, grades 4-5 published by Scholastic and co-edited Standing for Literacy: Teaching in the Context of Change, published by Hampton Press.
  • Dr. John Shaughnessy, professor of Psychology, co-authored the ninth edition of Research Methods in Psychology, published by McGraw Hill.
  • Dr. Yooyeun Hwang, professor of Education, received the Excellent Lecturer Award from the Catholic University of Korea in South Korea.
  • Professor of Psychology David Myers wrote two books entitled Psychology in Everyday Life, second edition and Psychology, tenth edition, both published by Worth Publishers.

  • Dr. Myers also received the Presidential Award from the American Academy of Audiology.

  • Dr. Teresa Heinz Housel, professor of Communication, co-edited Faculty and First-Generation College Students: Bridging the Classroom Gap Together, published by Jossey-Bass.
  • Professor of Communication Dr. James Herrick wrote a fourth edition to his book entitled Argumentation - Understanding and Shaping Arguments, published by Strata Publishing.
  • Professor of Kinesiology and Athletic Trainer Meg Frens received the President's Excellence Award from the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers' Association (GLATA).

  • Jorge Capestany, DeWitt Tennis Center Director, received Facility Manager of the Year and Outstanding Educator of the Year awarded by the Midwest Division of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).
  • Kinesiology professor Tonia Gruppen's Athletic Training Awareness Project received the Best in Michigan award from the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers' Association (GLATA).

Student/faculty collaborative research.
Hope College has a national reputation for student-faculty collaborative research. The social sciences have been a significant contributor to this reputation. Furthermore, the tradition of putting theory into practice through internships, service learning, and practica is well established in the social sciences at Hope College. Consider the following facts:

  • 44 research projects conducted by 82 students in the social sciences were showcased at the 11th Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance on Hope’s campus.

  • Hope College psychology students have earned regional recognition for excellence in research for 12 of the last 13 years from the Midwestern chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.
  • Each social science department offers at least one type of experiential learning option. Six of the seven require at least one internship, practicum, or service learning experience in the discipline as a graduation requirement.


  • Students preparing for vocations as teachers participate in at least four field placements in K-12 schools before student teaching.



  • Many students in the social sciences spend a semester working in their chosen field as part of programs the college offers in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

Research conducted in the summer of 2012.

    Professor of Political Science Virginia Beard (with student Caitlin Schwark) worked together on two research projects. The first entitled "A Theoretical Understanding of Federal and State Homeless Policies: Punctuated Equilibrium, Advocacy Coalitions, and Housing Policy Over Time" sought to test theoretical understandings of how policy change occurs. This project focused on the issue of homelessness since the late 19th century through present day.

    The second project "Representative Institutions and Identity Politics: Democratic Development in Africa" researched if and how well elected leaders, under the new and evolving constitutional and land law institutional arrangements, are representing their constituents.









    Professor Don Luidens (with student Emma Zagar) did a study of "Middle East Memoirs," an archival project involving Don's parents' letters from 1944-1964. During that period of monumental historic change in the Middle East, Rev. and Mrs. Luidens worked as missionaries of the Reformed Church, primarily in Bahrain, Iraq, and Lebanon. Their letters recount the end of the British Empire in that region and the resulting creation of nation states (India, Iraq, Jordan, Israel).



    Professor of Sociology Debra Swanson (with student Samuel Fishman) has been looking into the advantages and stresses of different mothering practices and perspectives among West Michigan, middle-class mothers of teenage children for a project entitled "Intensive Mothers as Seregants.








    Professor of Psychology Gwenda Schmidt (with students Sydney Timmer and Nathan Axdorff) worked on their research project "ERP Studies of Metaphor" that focused on developing stimulus items with which they tested healthy college students who have been characterized based on their autism spectrum traits. Data was collected using the college's new 64-electrode EEG system.




    Professor of Social Work Deborah Sturtevant travelled to Siena, Italy to present her research (conducted with student David Bylstra) at the International Society for Third Sector Research on the evaluation of the "Milk and Medicine" supplemental feeding program for HIV infant orphans in Lusaka, Zambia.




    Professor of Kinesiology Maureen Dunn worked on two research projects. The first project titled "Videogame-based Cognitive Rehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis? Effect of Motor Function" (with students Amanda Black and Erin Holstad) examined the effect of cognitive rehabilitation using a novel videogram in persons with MS.



    The second project "The Effects of Barefoot Training on Balance and Postural Control in Adults 65-85," was in collaboration with Professor of Kinesiology Stein Slette (and students Jaren Lincoln, Rachel Slotman and Rebecca Stocker).






    Deborah Van Duinen, professor of Education (with student Julie Powers) did a qualitative in-depth interview study titled "That Counts as Reading?!" that examined adolescents' out-of-school literacy practices, focusing particularly on those that surround their sports and church involvements.

    Global perspective. The Division of Social Sciences takes Hope College’s mission to educate students for lives of leadership in a global society seriously. Consider the following ways in which the social sciences have extended the campus to the four corners of the Earth:


    Professor Annie Dandavati spent the 2012 Spring Semester as a Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. When she was not teaching, advising or researching the dramatic political changes occuring in the region, she got an opportunity to see one of the Wonders of the World.

    In May 2012, Professor Eva Dean Folkert travelled to Tokyo, Japan with four Hope student athletic trainers to participate in an exchange program with Technos College where they taught classes on athletic training. The group was also exposed to the Japanese quality of life as evidenced in the country's cultural, economic and social capital.

    Professors Tony Donk and Laura Pardo travelled to England with 13 students during 2012 June Term to experience teaching in British schools in Liverpool.


    Fourteen DEMA students, along with Professors Tom Smith and Brian Porter, participated in a 3-week London 2012 May term. Highlights of the trip included visits to Goldman Sachs and the Herman Miller facility in Chippenham, tours of the grounds at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (Wimbledon), the Houses of Parliament, as well as informative trips to Cambridge, Bath, and Paris.

    Professors Vicki Ten Haken and John Lunn travelled to Beijing and Shanghai with 8 Bakers Scholars and 2 Business Club students over Spring Break to learn first hand about doing business in China. The group visited 10 companies including one of the largest Chinese state-owned enterprises, which provided a contrast to the join ventures and wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries. They also toured Beijing's Forbidden City, The Great Wall, and Yuyuan Gardens.

    Professor Teresa Heinz Housel spent the 2012 Spring semester as a visiting scholar in journalism and communication at Massey University's School of Journalism, Communication, and Marketing in Wellington, New Zealand. She also presented invited lectures about her research on Australian nationalism and globalization at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

    Thirteen Communication students travelled to Scottland with Professors Isolde Anderson and Deirdre Johnston. Half the group took a Senior Seminar 'Abundant Community' with Anderson and the other students studied 'community' by conducting interviews to create a video essay addressing their individual research questions with Johnston. The entire group traveled to Glasgow, Highlands, Isle of Skye, and Edinburgh, and spent a week living in the Abbey with the Iona Christian Community on the Isle of Iona in the Lower Hebrides.