Sojourner-Douglass College

Special to SunSpot

Established in 1972 as the Homestead-Montebello Center of Antioch University, Sojourner-Douglass College took on the role of an independent four-year school on July 1, 1980. As a fully accredited institution, it offers a bachelor's degree to adult learners, with an emphasis on the practical application of knowledge. The school also offers a master's degree in applied social science.

In addition to its main facility in Baltimore, the college operates branch offices around the state -- in Annapolis, Lanham, Salisbury and Hurlock -- as well as in Nassau, Bahamas. Admissions are open to anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent, or to students who show that they will benefit from the college's programs.

The student body consists of a few hundred adults who bring with them varied histories. Some are returning to their studies, while others are pursuing higher education for the first time. Some are just starting their careers, while others are seeking to improve their job prospects. Most of the students are African-Americans.

The classroom style tends toward discussion and other forms of group participation. Students are encouraged to share their own experiences to enhance the learning process for themselves and others.

The school offers a bachelor's degree in three broad areas of concentration: administration, human and social resources, and human growth and development. Administration students can pursue areas such as administration and management, information systems administration, and business administration. Human and social resources include such areas as sociology, social work, criminal justice and gerontology. The human growth area includes psychology, early childhood education and related topics. Students may also customize their courses in order to make learning relevant to their professional fields.

In addition to general education classes and coursework in their majors, all students must fulfill a requirement called the Project Demonstrating Competence (PDC). The PDC requirement includes a substantial research project and/or field experience that demonstrates a student's practical grasp of information tied to the student's major.

Students can earn up to 42 academic credits for prior learning gained from experience at work, in the community, in volunteer activities and even in hobbies and other personal activities.

The college's emphasis on practical application has led to Sojourner-Douglass students getting involved in diverse community initiatives. In 2000, for example, the college teamed with Johns Hopkins University to offer a nine-week multidisciplinary course exploring the diverse factors influencing people's health in the urban environment.

The school also has made some high-profile friends.

Speaking at a Sojourner-Douglass commencement, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings remarked that the means to live respectfully with one another "are to be found right here -- here at Sojourner-Douglass College. That's why we all need a 'revolution' in the way we think. We need a 'revolution of rising expectations' that will free us from the false belief that education is for someone else."

Education is for everyone at Sojourner-Douglass, where the doors of learning are open wide to those with the courage to try.

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