Today our series on the seven HiPPos majors focuses on our only true professional program: Social Studies Education 5-12. Equal parts theory and practice of education (including a student teaching semester) and content area studies in history, political science, geography, and related fields, graduates with this major are licensed to teach social studies in middle and high school.

When and why did you choose the Social Studies Ed 5-12 major?

Grace Koehn ’17: In 7th grade it became my dream to go to Bethel University and become a history teacher!

RyleeAnn Andre ’24: I came to Bethel with the idea of pursuing a career in education, but I didn’t choose Social Studies Ed until the spring semester of my freshman year, after taking a history class.

Sam Derfus ’24: I wanted to become a politician but discovered that I didn’t have the patience nor optimism for it. Because of that I decided that becoming a teacher would be a more productive, enjoyable way of working with my passion for politics

Joe Franzen ’25: I came into Bethel as a biology major, and switched to Social Studies Education after my fall semester.

Historically, about two-thirds of our Social Studies Education majors add a second major in History, Political Science, or another social studies content area. Did you double-major? Why or why not?

Sarah Jagerson ’25

Sam: Poli Sci is a secondary major to my main Education major. I’m doing it because the requirements aren’t too much additional work over a minor, and it will look good on resumes.

Grace: Yes, because I loved history.

Sarah Jagerson ’25: I did not double major due to the fact that I have a minor in another department. My minor in Spanish and I felt it was important to keep studying the language so I can someday use it in my classroom.

Tell us about a particular highlight of the Social Studies Ed major in your experience of it.

Sarah: My favorite class by far was Introduction to Geography with Professor Poppinga. Her passion for the content of the course rubbed off on us students. Additionally, Prof. Poppinga shared how she taught at the secondary education level before working at Bethel. This helped me connect with her since she worked in the field I want to enter post-graduation.

Sam: The best parts so far have been the education practicums. They’ve been very encouraging, and confirmed that this is what I want to do with my life.

The education practicums have been very encouraging, and confirmed that this is what I want to do with my life.

Sam Derfus ’24

What’s one important way that you’ve grown — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, etc. — as a result of majoring in Social Studies Education?

Grace: I developed more empathy towards others, especially students

Joe Franzen ’25

Joe: Being a Social Studies major has helped me grow in the area of just being able to appreciate past experiences in my own life and how they have shaped my life today.

Sarah: I have grown spiritually through my major because of the biblically influenced content and teaching.

If you were to talk to a prospective student considering Social Studies Ed, what advice would you give her?

RyleeAnn: Being a qualified Social Studies Education teacher opens the door to teaching a multitude of classes, like psychology, history, and sociology, so it is a great major if you want to have a teaching career and have diverse interests.

Joe: I would tell them that it’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do. Bethel gives you the chance to take a lot of different classes and to use that to your advantage. Take your time, and don’t rush the process.

It’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do… Take your time, and don’t rush the process.

Joe Franzen ’25

To learn more about the Social Studies Ed major, click here or see the catalog page below:

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