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BWLI Students and Committee

New Minor

01/12/2011

Students now have the option for a new minor in cross-cultural and social justice studies as part of MCLA's interdisciplinary studies program. According to Dr. Rita Nnodim, interdisciplinary studies professor, the minor in cross-cultural and social justice studies can be combined with any major at MCLA, such as business administration, sociology and education.

"Students taking this minor will acquire knowledge relating to cultural diversity and social justice issues, and develop skills in intercultural communication. This will enable them to become successful and responsible citizens in the increasingly interconnected world of the 21st century," Nnodim said.

Prompted by a suggestion in 2005 by MCLA's Diversity Committee to pursue additional multicultural curriculum, sociology professor Dr. Sumi Colligan (pictured above left, with students) determined that this innovative program of study would be most beneficial for students. She then set out to develop the minor.

Last summer, Colligan was joined by Nnodim to revise the minor template, review the catalog for appropriate courses and design a syllabus.

Students who pursue this minor will engage with topics such as:

        Ethnicity, race, culture, gender, and ability as cultural categories

        Issues of social justice and equality in local and global contexts

        Past and present experiences of minorities and underrepresented groups in the United States and around the world

        Cultural and intellectual contributions of different socio-cultural groups toward their respective societies in  fields such as social, political, and philosophical thought, science, literature and the performing arts

This semester, the introductory course for this minor is "Introduction to Cross-Cultural and Social Justice Studies." Students can formally register for the minor, which will consist of 18 total credits, beginning in fall 2011.

After completing the introductory course and two other foundation courses, students may select a specific concentration - cross-cultural studies, or social justice - before moving on to take their upper level courses.

Nnodim (pictured right) said the new minor will provide a focus on groups of people who - based on culturally defined categories such as gender, ability, ethnicity, race, culture, language or religion - have experienced or are experiencing forms of marginalization, oppression, discrimination, and segregation in the societies in which they live.

In addition, the minor will focus on people and cultures, their histories, and present experiences in nations and regions of the world characterized by cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.

Emphasis also will be placed on social problems and issues of social justice/injustice in a given society and forms of societal responses. This includes public policies, social programs and educational policies, to name a few.

"The minor expands the curriculum by including a discussion of the intellectual and cultural contributions of members of underrepresented groups toward their society as evident in political and social thought, philosophy, literature and the arts. Such contributions have been strongly marginalized, silenced, and excluded within the traditional curricula of many academic disciplines," Nnodim explained.

"The minor is important because it helps students understand the underlying causes, the cultural and historic roots, as well as past and present transformations of local, national, and global systems and forms of injustice and oppression," she continued.

"It will raise awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity in local and global contexts. Taking courses that relate to cross-cultural themes and issues of social justice will help students become critical thinkers in their personal and professional lives, as well as support them in becoming responsible citizens in our globalizing world."