Social Activism & Social Change

“For the time being…we need to know who we are, where we are and what we must do to live. These questions do not refer to a discrete category of knowledge. We are not likely to be able to answer one of them without answering the other two. And all three must be answered well before we can answer with a further practical question: how can we live without destroying the sources of our life?”

—Wendell Berry

 

“We can and should discuss among each other effective ways for opening up [students] to the wounds of the world. We can and should discuss among each other effective and sensitive ways of handling controversies that will arrive when we teach for justice.”

—Nicholas Wolterstorff

The core goal of this college seminar is to introduce the liberal arts experience—to help give you the tools, language, skills, and intellectual framework to make the most of not only your first year, but all four years. Throughout the semester, you and your classmates will discuss the broader value and philosophy behind the liberal arts, engage in more immediate collegiate skills, learn to navigate the university and campus, and work to envision college more than one semester at a time. We'll discuss how to devise a four-year plan, budget the time necessary to study abroad or pursue an international research grant, apply for individualized project grants, and otherwise make a home both on campus and within this community. We believe an engaged college curriculum necessitates awareness to social injustice, inequality, and systemic oppression as it relates to our own community and those communities different from our own, and as such, this course places particular emphasis on the role social activism plays in social change and progression. In addition to engaging in service-related projects oriented towards our own local community, it is our goal that students will filter their study of social injustice through their respective disciplines and intellectual pursuits so that, together, we might come to some understanding on how we can address and work to heal the wounds of society.

 

Objectives:

  • Philosophical: Students will develop an intellectual framework for understanding the value, purpose, and nature of a liberal arts education, both in general and at our particular university.

  •  Practical: Students will acquire the tools to navigate college life, learning how to take advantage of university resources to support their current academic endeavors, while also grasping the importance of thinking about college more than one term at a time in order to plot a rewarding undergraduate experience.

  • Exploratory:  Students will explore the university and its local community by attending on- and off-campus events, participating in service learning, and gaining education in opportunities that extend beyond the classroom through an array of curricular and co-curricular initiatives.

  • Communal: Students will forge connections with other students and develop ties to potential mentors among the university faculty, staff, and student body. They will interact constructively with members of the university community who differ from themselves in ideology, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, or religious belief.

  • Connective: Students will come to appreciate how all the dimensions of their undergraduate experience, no matter how apparently unrelated, are in fact connected, and that the promise of their education will be most richly fulfilled by realizing these connections.

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