Lecture Class Focuses on Social Change
Social Justice class focuses on new topic each semester
August 28, 2005 2:10 PM
An experimental class developed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is attracting an array of students eager to explore the concepts of social justice and the United States’ role in the world.
The class, now in its third semester, is based out of the College of Behavioral and Social Science (BSS) and deals with a new topic each semester. This semester’s course topic is Social Justice and Social Change: Race/Ethnicity, Class, Gender, Sexuality, Disability at Home and Abroad. The curriculum for the two-unit class is centered around panel and roundtable discussions, and utilizes multimedia pieces.
“We wanted to do something more than merely express our opinions about the (Iraq) war,” said BSS dean and co-creator of the class, Joel Kassiola. Kassiola said he was “delighted to assume the responsibility” of both coordinating the class and monitoring the panel discussions.
More than 50 faculty members are scheduled to participate as panelists this semester as well as President Robert Corrigan, who will participate in a discussion on access and equity to higher education on Nov. 2.
Kassiola conceded that this semester’s topic is more wide-ranging than it has been in the past, but said that he “thought we could engage more faculty members, and we were right.”
According to Kassiola, the class has two goals; the first being to explore the concepts of social justice, and the second being the application of those concepts into our society. Issues of race, gender and others are openly discussed, and Kassiola pushes for students to speak openly and honestly amongst themselves and to panelists.
“There is no learning without discomfort,” Kassiola said.
Kathyrn Johnson, the BSS coordinator for special projects, co-created the class with Kassiola and said drop-ins are always welcome. She said that there are also no requirements that attendees even be SF
“I’m not doing this for credits anymore,” said Sarita Groisser, who earned her teaching credential from SF State 18 years ago and now works for the school district. “I’m doing this for me as a human being.”
The first semester’s topic was U.S. in the 21st Century, and the class’ success led to a second semester, which coincided with last year’s presidential election. Experts were brought in to discuss topics from the Electoral College to watching and critiquing conventions. 350 people joined the class in Jack Adams Hall on election night to watch the results come in and receive analysis.
“We’ve built a great tradition of audience participation,” Kassiola said.
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