The program is based in the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life and relies on the Institute’s ties with related university programs in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Institute’s community development, policy consultation, and empirical research projects in South Carolina, and other states and nations.
With its focus on family and community life, the program touches on the most fundamental aspects of people’s everyday lives. Blending the humanities, the social sciences, and various professional disciplines, the program may be unique in its integration of normative analysis (i.e., philosophical, legal, and religious studies), empirical research, and community development. With a foundation in the study of human rights as applied to children and families around the world, the program builds a comparative understanding of U.S., foreign, and international law and policy on child and family issues and of the significance of democracy for the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Students acquire an appreciation of the role of civil society (e.g., voluntary associations and nonprofit organizations) and primary community institutions (e.g., schools) in promoting and maintaining democracy. Such studies provide the foundation for an understanding of the principles and practices of community development and transformation, humanitarian assistance, and responsive human services. The important role and features of effective informal mutual assistance mechanisms in community life and their meaning for children and families are also explored.
Both to provide a richer understanding of human development and family life and to build skills for work in diverse cultures, international study is emphasized. Doctoral students are required to become proficient in studies of three world regions and in communication in a language other than their own.
PhD and Graduate Certificate students may take advantage of the Institute’s extensive network. Many scholars who are partners abroad hold adjunct appointments as IFNL faculty and are actively involved in supervising individual students. For a complete Adjunct Faculty list click here.