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The Navigator Certificate in Human Services and Community Justice Curriculum - Institute for Justice and Opportunity

The Navigator Certificate in Human Services and Community Justice Curriculum

The Navigator Certificate curriculum combines coursework from John Jay College’s new concentration in human services and community justice with professional skills development.

People with lived experience in the criminal legal system are uniquely equipped to support others transitioning back into their communities after incarceration. The Certificate program allows Navigator students to draw on the value of their lived experiences as human services practitioners, helping people facing similar challenges access crucial resources and transform their lives.

  • Developed in partnership with John Jay faculty, employers, and people with lived experience in the criminal legal system.
  • Focused on learning transfer so that education and skills training apply to students’ current or post-training jobs.
  • Rooted in self-reflection and discovery of personal voice; Navigator students engage with coursework through the lens of their lived experiences.
  • Grounded in the neuroscience of trauma and powerful strategies for self-care in the human services workplace.
  • Supports development of academic and professional skills, including group and one-on-one writing skills development.
  • People with a high school degree or equivalent who want to explore a supportive, introductory college-level experience are welcome, along with people who have prior college coursework.

Theoretical Framework for Human Services

  • A college-level introduction to human services theory and ethics
  • History and values of the human services profession
  • Approaches to helping people and communities
  • Overview of the human services sector
  • Exploration of the impact of race, gender, and sexual orientation inequality in criminal justice and human services
  • Community development and economics
  • Community-based approaches to justice
  • Ethical standards of the National Organization for Human Services

 Professional Skills

  • Self-exploration and reflection
  • Self-care for human services practitioners
  • Impact of lived experience in human services work
  • Navigating organizational culture
  • Communication with colleagues, supervisors, and clients

Introduction to Human Services Skills

  • Navigating social services
  • Service needs assessments and referrals
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Writing for human services, including case notes, referral letters, and professional emails
  • Technology for human services, including searching for services online, accessing online resources and databases, and using mobile platforms

Career Pathways and Work Readiness

  • Professional resume, cover letter, and job search skills
  • Mock interviewing
  • Know Your Rights workshops (conducted through the Institute’s partnership with the Community Service Society)
  • Ask a Lawyer (rap sheet review and clean-up, partnership with CSS)
  • Career planning
  1. Attendance and participation in class and study groups
  2. Academic and professional writing assignments
  3. Field experience and/or site research at a human services agency

A successful career in human services requires a broad skill set, including a conceptual understanding of community organization, an ability to navigate professional settings, and technological fluency. The Navigator Certificate program reflects that breadth, with a range of modules on both theoretical frameworks and professional development. The sample course modules below offer a snapshot of the curriculum. 

Introduction to Community Practice

Introduction to community development, community economics, and the ways that individuals and organizations interact in communities. A human services worker is not an island; workers are part of a community, and they are hired by nonprofit or government agencies to do the work of helping others. This module will develop understanding of how human services work is organized and implemented within communities and organizations. A key focus for this module is community-initiated development and how communities and individuals are drivers of their own growth and well-being. This module will examine values and strategies that ensure community residents have input into the decisions that impact their neighborhood as well as how they can direct the services offered to them. Students will develop insight into how their work as human services professionals can tap into and maximize existing efforts in the community.

Social Resilience Model (SRM)

Social Resilience Model (SRM) consists of research-based neuroscience concepts and a set of practical skills that can be used for self-care as well as peer-to-peer. SRM has been used nationally and internationally with people who have experienced distress and trauma. In New York City, SRM is used in primary care and community-based organizations that serve people involved in the criminal legal system. Students learn brain-based techniques for regrounding and rewiring brain responses during and after situations of distress. SRM skills can be used in a wide range of human services settings.

Navigating Organizational Culture

This module focuses on the individual capacity and responsibility to recognize that every professional setting has its own culture and norms. Students will learn how to use observation, questioning, and listening to surface otherwise hidden cultural norms and take responsibility for learning to function within them and effectively challenge them when necessary. An introduction to the ways that organizational culture surfaces in individual and group communication and supervision norms as well as professional practices around authority, email communication, and work-life balance. 

Tech for Human Services/Mobile Platforms

Human services workers use technology in both the office and the field. This module covers finding resources online, entering data and case notes in client services databases, and other technology applications in human services. Students will be provided with tablets and notebooks for use in class.

The Navigator Fall 2024 application is now available. Submit your application here.