“The social sciences have a critical contribution to make, in helping us understand, imagine, and craft a more sustainable future for all.”- UNESCO
Much has been discussed about the increasing need of Social Science and philanthropic projects in recent times, but the question is how, and more importantly, where does one start? The Social Sciences are not limited to behavioural science, society and culture, it encompasses a bigger, more comprehensive and multidisciplinary view of social impact on the world.
The recent Ebola crisis in Africa is illustrative of the role of Social Science in solving existing global problems. While most of the treatment administered at the time, was given by medical experts, a number of social scientists were also roped in to understand people’s attitudes towards sanitation and hygiene to really delve into the root cause of the crisis and recommend measures to eradicate it. The depth and detail about society and its problems that Social Science can unearth, is infinite. It enables us to really empathize with the audience and identify their needs and problems, thus creating an almost irreplaceable need for social scientists for any project- corporate or otherwise. One of the foremost reasons for the increasing popularity of Social Science degrees amongst undergraduate students is the wide variety of employment opportunities and career options now available.
A health sciences degree is the perfect opportunity for students to explore healthcare in a comprehensive way because it provides a hands on experience in health education, research, administration and patient care. An undergrad healthcare degree opens up channels to advanced training via higher education or various pre-professional programs like non-clinical specializations, pre-physical therapy, pre- occupational therapy etc. Within the health science concentration a popular choice for such a trajectory has been, Counselling, specially for Psychology majors. Counsellors are in demand and are being offered median salaries as high as $43,300 per year($20.82 per hour). School and career counsellors, dieticians, and behavioral disorder counsellors are other popular choices with salaries reaching, as much as $55,410 per year. As a Health Educator or Counsellor, duties involve behavioral or basic medical assessments and implementation of guidance programs. Health educators need to be very efficient in behavior analysis and possess communication skills to motivate their clients to follow the prescribed program. A bachelor’s certification in health science usually doesn’t equip you enough to be directly involved in patient care. Pursuing an advanced course, accredited by a professional association like American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), after graduation can however open up careers in fields like Echocardiography, Radiography, Sonography or Radiation Therapy. There are other options that allow students to get an experience in patient care without pursuing a specialisation. Healthcare administration has been another up and coming career option with growth prospects of 17% between 2014-2024. As an administrator, you are directly involved in the management of healthcare departments or facilities which gives you an insight into patient care. You could opt for general admin roles involving supervision, coordination, direction and planning of programs for the whole facility or you could opt for specialized admin roles in Finance or claims processing. This is one of the most financially rewarding career options with median salaries as high as $92,810.
Public Administration And Political Science
Since the field is centred around implementation of policy, a bachelor’s degree in public administration is focused on leadership, management and strategic planning. The aim is to prepare you for administrative careers in both government and non-government organizations. Beyond the analysis of policies, public administrators must also deeply analyze problems, evaluate inputs that lead to a policy and inputs necessary to produce alternative policies. Most public administrative jobs require a specialised policy management and analysis education like MA in Public Administration or MPA. A background in Economics, though not mandatory, is advised because it provides a broader understanding of how the policies play out in real scenarios. Students today are also joining fields like Media Relations and disaster response along with core public policy areas for a more holistic approach. Due to the extensive education and experience required, most careers in public administration are mainly reserved for post-graduates. Some employers allow graduates to pursue less critical, entry level positions like fund-raising or campaign management. With significant experience, you can then progress to positions like policy making. One of the popular career choices in public administration currently is Management Analysts, showing very promising employment growth rates of upto 14% (2014-2024). You could also opt for legislative positions at the state or local levels but such positions are not as financially rewarding as managerial analyst positions at the federal executive level, where mean annual salaries are as high as $87,750 . Beyond the monetary rewards, careers in public administration are gaining popularity due to the flexibility they provide.
Environment is a versatile field with a multidisciplinary educational approach. Students can specialise in environmental research, climate change, sustainability, law or administration. A heightened awareness about environmental concerns, ‘green jobs’ like Sustainability Officers or Environmental Lawyer or Scientist, have driven the popularity of career choices for Environmental Science students. Conservation Scientist is one of the most promising careers in this field not only because of high median annual earnings as much as $61,810 but also because it challenges individuals to find creative solutions for simultaneously utilising and protecting resources. Another challenging field for environmental science is Environmental Engineering- a field focused on minimising environmental impact. Most companies, specially international and natural resource exploration companies, are now mandated to have an Environmental Engineer on their core team. If you’re more interested in the research aspect, at the undergraduate level you could get hands on experience as environmental lab technician working under environmental scientists. A new role in the environmental sector is Chief Sustainability Officer, an individual who helps companies tackle environmental concerns. “Companies are monitoring the impact they’re having environmentally and on society, and the appointment of the CSO reflects an underlying need for companies to not only monitor but also improve their performance,” Harvard Business School associate professor George Serafeim tells Forbes. Environmental lawyers also perform similar functions but they are more focused on the legality aspects like regulations regarding pollution and waste management. Unlike CSO, practicing environmental law requires a specialised degree like Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Irrespective of the specialisation, the growth prospects for this career are very high due to the globally increasing concerns about climate change and environmental sustainability.
Although jobs in the social field may not seem as directly practical as traditional career choices like Finance or Engineering, there is a lot of growth opportunity. With a Social Science degree, students now have strong number of career prospects to consider. The popularity of Social Science as a field of study is relatively new and Social Science jobs at times are not very well defined, which can be quite daunting as to what career path to pursue after graduation, but that is what makes it such a versatile and flexible career option for students. To make the most of a career in Social Science, individuals must understand the basic values of human and social behaviour and leverage that towards their chosen branch of social study.
And as Jane Goodall remarked, “Every single individual matters, every single individual makes some impact on the planet every single day and we have a choice as to what kind of difference we are going to make.