Welcome to the Van Arsdale Center

photo of Michael Merrill

Dean Michael Merrill

SUNY Empire State College’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies serves more than 1,000 trade unionists and other students annually and is home to more than 5,000 alumni. At the Van Arsdale Center, faculty, staff, students and institutional partners work together to develop and strengthen labor studies as a perspective on our world and as a means to ensure the best possible society for us all.

The best possible society, from the perspective of labor studies, is one in which everyone who wants to work can, and everyone who does work is paid enough to live a good life as a respected member of the community. Learning how to ensure these desires, which are well expressed by the traditional labor movement slogan, "a fair day's wages for a fair day's work," is the guiding purpose of a labor studies degree.

To provide appropriate paths to such a degree, Van Arsdale Center faculty and staff work with the center's institutional partners to develop courses of study that meet the needs of their members and the requirements of the program.

They also work with students wanting to pursue an individualized labor studies degree to develop a plan of study that best supports their needs and interests.

There are a variety of ways to earn a labor studies degree at the center and at the college.

  • Construction trades apprentices with IBEW Local 3 and UA Local 1 compete associate degree requirements as part of their registered apprenticeship training, which is almost wholly supported by the joint training fund of their respective trades.
  • Public school classroom paraprofessionals from the UFT pursue associate and bachelor's degrees in educational studies and related fields at both the center and at the UFT's five borough teacher centers.
  • Labor movement officers and staff work with the center to receive recognition for their prior college-level learning in an executive bachelor's program in labor studies, which affords opportunities for them to engage with their peers on a range of vital issues and to complete research and writing projects related to their concerns as part of their program of study.

All of us at the Van Arsdale Center are looking forward to working with you to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.