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Human and Organizational Development

Peabody College
The Human and Organizational Development (HOD) major is designed for students interested in careers that involve finding solutions to human problems in organizations and communities. Graduates are prepared to assume positions in businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
The curriculum is planned to ensure that students obtain a strong foundation in the liberal arts, with emphasis on developing writing, oral presentation, and quantitative skills. The core curriculum includes human development, group dynamics, organizational theory and behavior, public policy, economics, statistics, and research methodology. Students acquire an understanding of human behavior in groups, organizations, and larger systems.
In addition to the core curriculum, students select one of five areas of concentration that provides a focus for their study during the junior and senior years: Community Leadership and Development, Health and Human Services, International Leadership and Development, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, or Public Policy. The program makes use of the action-learning approach or experiential learning approach. Students learn new ideas and methods through seminars, simulation, case studies, field experiences, and interaction with professionals in the field.

Creative Problem Solving in Context

More than 25 years ago, Peabody College began a small interdisciplinary program that offered undergraduates a degree in Human and Organizational Development. Emeritus Professor Robert Innes, founder of the program, recalls that he only expected five or six students to be interested. Instead, some 20 undergraduates enrolled, and interest in the program has continued to exceed expectations every year since. Human and Organizational Development (HOD) is now one of the largest undergraduate majors at Vanderbilt.

What makes the program so popular? It’s an idea that’s as old as Peabody College itself and as fresh as the eager faces of the institution’s newest students. “Our focus is on making sure our students can apply what they learn in their classes to their personal lives and to their professional lives,” Innes explains.

HOD majors begin the program in their freshman year with a core curriculum of classes in such critical workplace skills as writing, oral presentation, creative problem solving, and understanding both small-group dynamics and the development of large organizations.


In the final three semesters of the degree, students complete the semester long, fulltime capstone internship experience. Students work at their internship site 32 hours a week and attend a weekly seminar to complete assignments and a large project connected to the internship.

The focus of HOD Capstone internship is academic, not vocational, allowing the student to apply earlier coursework and demonstrate the core competencies of the HOD degree through the coursework.

The HOD Department has established internship programs in Nashville as well as Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and London, England. Students can petition for an internship outside these cities if the opportunity is unique enough to offset the loss of seminar interaction. A small sampling of the organizations with whom our students intern include Sony, Deloitte, Christie’s Auction House, MTV, United Nations, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Booz Allen Hamilton, Public Defender’s Office, National Institutes of Health, Clinton Foundation, NBC Sports, Proctor and Gamble, and Chicago Botanical Gardens.

Career Paths

Upon graduation, many students in the program find positions in diverse organizations such as management consulting, advertising/public relations, marketing, policy analysis/government, profit and nonprofit healthcare and community development agencies. In recent years, our HOD graduates have found positions with a variety of organizations and companies, including but not limited to: Primera Companies (Dallas, TX), Teach for America (various cities), Giorgio Armani (New York), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Accenture (Atlanta, London, and Washington, D.C.), Underwriters Laboratories (Chicago), Royal Caribbean International (Delray Beach, FL), Blackbaud (Washington, D.C.), Sinotrans (Beijing, China), Huron Consulting Group (New York), African Center for Technology Studies (Kenya), JMB Financial Advisors, LLC (Chicago), Cartier, Inc. (New York), Aon Consulting (Atlanta), and Chase Manhattan Bank (New York).

Others enter graduate programs or professional programs in community development, business, counseling, divinity, education, health promotion, human resource development, law, or medicine.

Kudos From Our Graduates

Graduates write us with comments such as these:

“When I was applying for this position I was able to highlight the many educational opportunities I had as a HOD student. I was able to sight cite unique courses and emphasize my management and organizational skills using concrete examples from my HOD internship experience. I am grateful for the diverse education I received from both Vanderbilt and the HOD program.”
-Tricia Tumlinson ’10,  Executive Asst. to CEO, 42West, NYC (talent and film public relations)

“I'm currently working in public relations where I develop marketing strategies for a variety of clients. The organizations I work with vary from the healthcare and aviation industries to local non-profits and many others in between. HOD has given me the skills and knowledge to work with a variety of organizations, and I'm so grateful that my major did not confine me to any one niche. I truly believe that HOD prepares students to pursue practically anything in the work world.”
-Sarah Kurrus ’10
, Public Relations Account Coordinator, Sells Agency

“HOD faculty and staff were incredibly supportive in helping me pursue my interest in public policy research through starting on a master’s in Community Development during my senior year and completing it in my fifth year. I applied research skills learned in my HOD classes through an undergraduate research program where I worked with a Peabody professor on a study of the costs of homelessness in Nashville and by completing a research internship at a state housing finance agency. The knowledge and applied experiences that I gained from my HOD major enabled me to get a job contributing to complex, large scale research projects and evaluations of government programs that will shape federal housing and homelessness policy for years to come.”
-Scott Brown, ’09
, M.Ed. ’10, Analyst, Abt Associates, Washington D.C.

“…the internship is a wonderful transition between school and the real world – it really helps prepare students for interacting in a business environment. I’m so glad it was part of my major!”
-Christine Orlowski
’10, year of service through AmeriCorps, Boston.

“…the major as a whole prepared me for what to expect when entering the work force. I realized that I came into a work environment with many more skills and much more knowledge that someone who is at the same level.” 
-Stephanie Yewdell ’08
, Digital Asset Coordinator, Polo Ralph Lauren

Recent Graduates - After Vanderbilt

Gabriella Angiolillo, Associate Consultant, Peoplefluent, Boston, MA

Abigail Barnes, Paralegal, Children’s Rights, New York, NY

Alice Bator, Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Fellowship, South Africa

Jennifer Bogart, Business Analyst, Management Consulting Development Program at Accenture, Washington, D.C.

Jessie Bullock, Boren National Security Fellow, Brazil

Christina Chen, Medicare Home Health Patient Account Representative, Brookdale Senior Living, Nashville, TN

Emily Clanton, Implementation Analyst, Hospital Corporation of America, Nashville, TN

Evan Curran, Higher Education Analyst, Huron Consulting Group, Chicago, IL

Emily Degerberg, Assistant Manager, Pomegranate & Lime, Cincinatti, OH

Megan Dinan, Account Management Associate, Advisory Board Company, Washington, D.C.

Ellen Doramus, Human Capital Analyst, Deloitte, Washington, D.C.

Alex Goldberg, Sales Leadership Associate, Coca-Cola Refreshments, New Orleans, LA

Logan Handelsman, Ticket Counts, Creative Artists Agency, Nashville, TN

Jenna Jackson, Advisory Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York, NY

Odette Kasab, Client Service Administrator, rogenSi, New York, NY

Alex McConnell, UPS Corporate Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Chelsea Meiners, Spanish Teacher, Teach for America, Nashville, TN

Megan Millard, HR Associate Manager, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

Victoria Ottuso, Analyst, Goldman Sachs, New York, NY

Ashley Pasquariello, Research Analyst, Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Nashville, TN

Bryanna Ransom, Human Capital Consulting Analyst, Deloitte Consulting LLP, McLean, VA

Jay Roberts, Student, Master of Accountancy, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Michelle Risley, Graduate Associate, Beeline—Contingent Workforce Solutions Dept., Jacksonville, FL

Bryant Salcedo, Resource Specialist, ettain group, Nashville, TN

Kristen Sheft, Media Relations, Tennessee Titans, Nashville, TN

Carly Smith, Student, Higher Education Administration, University of Miami, Miami, FL

Alyssa Stewart, Associate in Management, Management Information Systems Dept., Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Jessica Torelli, Teacher, YES Prep, Teach for America, Houston, TX

Katie White, Merchandising Assistant, Dollar General, Goodletsville, TN

Tori Wycoff, Recruiting Coordinator, Google, Mountainview, CA


In keeping with the major’s focus on how people work and behave in groups, HOD faculty members eschew traditional lecture-style teaching for a more interactive approach that encourages students to work together to  learn. Faculty who are involved in the field of Human and Organizational Development are listed:

  • John A. Bachmann, Senior Lecturer. Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 1970.
  • R. Dale Ballou, Associate Professor. Ph.D. Yale, 1989.
  • Sandra Barnes, Professor. Ph.D. Georgia State, 1999.
  • Kimberly D. Bess, Assistant Professor. Ph.D., Vanderbilt, 2006.
  • John M. Braxton, Professor. D.ED. Pennsylvania State, 1980.
  • Mark D. Cannon, Associate Professor. Ph.D. Harvard, 1998.
  • Vera A. Stevens Chatman, Professor of the Practice Emerita. Ph.D. Vanderbilt, 1976.
  • Robert L. Crowson, Jr., Professor . Ph.D. Chicago, 1974.
  • Victoria J. Davis, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ed.D. Vanderbilt, 1999.
  • Paul R. Dokecki, Professor. Ph.D. Peabody, 1968.
  • Corbette Doyle, Lecturer. E.M.B.A., Vanderbilt, 1987.
  • William R. Doyle, Associate Professor. Ph.D. Stanford, 2004.
  • Andrew J. Finch, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ph.D., Vanderbilt, 2003.
  • Stella M. Flores, Assistant Professor. Ed..D. Harvard, 2007.
  • Donna Y. Ford, Professor. Ph.D. Cleveland State, 1991.
  • James C. Fraser, Associate Professor.Ph.D. Georgia State, 1996.
  • Gina L. Frieden, Assistant Professor. Ph.D. Memphis State, 1988.
  • Susan K. Friedman, Lecturer. MBA, Arizona State, 1986.
  • Leigh Z. Gilchrist, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ed. D. Vanderbilt, 2007.
  • Ellen B. Goldring, Professor. Ph.D. Chicago, 1985.
  • Brian A. Griffith, Assistant Clinical Professor. Ph.D. South Carolina, 1998.
  • Jason A. Grissom, Assistant Professor. Ph.D. Stanford, 2007.
  • Craig Anne Heflinger, Professor. Ph.D. Vanderbilt, 1989.
  • Brian Heuser, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ed.D. Vanderbilt, 2007.
  • Stephen P. Heyneman, Professor. Ph.D. Chicago, 1975.
  • Carolyn Hughes, Professor Emerita. Ph.D. Illinois, 1990.
  • Robert B. Innes, Professor Emeritus. Ph.D. Michigan, 1971.
  • Linda Isaacs, Lecturer. J.D. Nashville School of Law, 1984; Ed.D. Vanderbilt, 2003.
  • Christopher P. Loss, Assistant Professor. Ph.D. Virginia, 2007.
  • Allison P. McGuire, Lecturer. Ph.D. Vanderbilt, 2005.
  • Joseph F. Murphy, Professor. Ph.D. Ohio State, 1980.
  • Velma McBride Murry, Professor. Ph.D. Missouri, Columbia, 1987.
  • Maury Nation, Associate Professor. Ph.D. South Carolina, 1999.
  • Douglas D. Perkins, Professor. Ph.D. New York, 1990.
  • Dayle Savage, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ed.D. Vanderbilt, 2005.
  • Sharon L. Shields, Professor of the Practice. Ph.D. Peabody 1976.
  • Marybeth Shinn, Professor. Ph.D. Michigan 1978.
  • Heather L. Smith, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ph.D., Central Florida, 2006
  • Thomas M. Smith, Associate Professor. Ph.D., Pennsylvania State, 2000.
  • Paul W. Speer, Associate Professor. Ph.D., Missouri, 1992.
  • Sarah V. Suiter, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ph.D. Vanderbilt, 2009.
  • Deborah Tobey, Lecturer. Ed.D. Vanderbilt, 1990.
  • Kristen Tompkins, Lecturer. M.ED. Vanderbilt, 2001.
  • Christine Quinn Trank, Senior Lecturer. Ph.D. Iowa, 2001.
  • William L. Turner, Professor. Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1990.
  • Andrew J. Van Schaak, Assistant Professor of the Practice. Ph.D. Utah State, 2006.


Vicki Scalf, M.S.
Educational Coordinator
Human and Organizational Development
(615) 322-8495


Human and Organizational Development Website