Old Dominion University
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College of Arts and Letters

Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

Center for the Study of Work

The Center for the Study of Work at Old Dominion University was established to focus and support research, teaching and a variety of learning activities associated with the world of work. While most of us spend a great deal of our lives 'working', there is often little opportunity in the academy to reflect on and explore the changing nature of 'work' and the place of work in our lives.

As a research, teaching and learning center, CSW connect faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students with field-based studies and internships at corporations and government agencies. As an interdisciplinary center, CSW draws together faculty and graduate students from disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, professional writing, computer science and business. The research projects that these faculty and graduate students create benefit the local community as well as the university.

The unique goal of the CSW is to place the worker and the work that she or he does at the center of our teaching, exploration and understanding. The center's activities seek to validate our working lives in ways beyond a calculation of the monetary value of labor's contribution to a 'bottom line.'

The CSW examines the experiences from a range of workplace perspectives - those of the call center manager, the office "temp," the health care marketing specialist, the manager of a non-profit, the early childhood teacher and the software engineer. As workers, each of us utilizes our skills, makes contributions, wrestles with and is affected by the day-to-day challenges in our work environments.

Through the promotion of educational, outreach and research activities the CSW focuses on developing more humane, involved, rewarding and productive work, workers and workplaces.

The following sentiment from Studs Terkel's HOPE DIES LAST summarizes the Center's central mission:

Just to train people, to educate them, to inspire them, to help them figure out how they can do this with their lives, it's a whole process of transformation. And it's what makes it so exciting. Because you see people actually transforming themselves as individuals, which then lets them transform the whole character of their workplace. (Roberta Lynch, Illinois AFSCME deputy director, quoted in Studs Terkel, HOPE DIES LAST, NY: The New Press, 2003, p. 122)

In addition, the Center for the Study of Work is the embodiment of the mission of Old Dominion University. Through its focus on work and the targeted areas of community, collaboration, research and assessment, the center:

  • Develops in students a respect for the dignity and worth of work and of the individuals who perform it; as a resource for learning about issues and research affecting and informing our working lives.
  • Fosters the extension of the boundaries of knowledge about work through research and scholarship and preserves and disseminate of a rich cultural heritage imbedded in working lives."
  • Serves the needs of current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students; business and industry; government agencies at all levels; the military"
  • Develops the breadth of understanding needed for personal growth and achievement and for responsible citizenship."
  • Utilizes technologies of distance learning) and partnering with institutions of higher education, corporations, and government entities, to provide linkages across time and geographic boundaries."
  • Offers life-long learning opportunities through lecture series and training programs"
  • Strives to play a prominent role in the development of local business and industry and serves to government agencies.