Ohio Wesleyan to launch 'Social Justice Major' in fall

Ohio Wesleyan University will begin offering a degree in Social Justice starting this fall.

“Truly understanding issues of social justice and taking effective action requires knowledge and skills in areas such as economics, politics, philosophy, education, religion, sociology, and more,” the university asserts on its website. “OWU's social justice major will help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to analyze social injustices and theorize and work toward positive social change.”

Students who pursue the new major are expected to “develop the knowledge and skills to think critically on the meaning of social justice locally and globally, examine the dynamics of societal conflicts, and analyze social issues from many perspectives,” though the format is described as “highly flexible,” giving students the option to focus their studies on specific topics such as “global feminism, gender, Latin American culture, labor economics, poverty, civil rights, and the environment.”

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In a section highlighting previous social justice initiatives on campus, the school also touts its “House of Peace and Justice,” one of several “Small Living Units” at OWU that serves as “a community of socially aware and active individuals.”

The House of Peace and Justice is also one of six officially-designated “Safe Zones,” indicating that participants have undergone training in fostering “an inclusive and safe space for all genders.”

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In addition to a normal course-load, each student is required to complete “an internship or faculty-mentored applied project” designed to give them real-world experience with “career-related skills” like community organizing and “mediating diverse social groups.”

Among the career options potentially open to social justice majors, OWU mentions roles with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions that deal with issues relating to social justice topics.

Alternatively, the website also suggests that the social justice major “can help prepare students for a variety of graduate programs, including law, public administration, dispute resolution, social work, public health, regional & international studies, dispute resolution [redundancy in original], theology, and more.”

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The social justice degree requires students to complete 12 courses, four of which are electives chosen from a list that includes “History of Jazz,” “Feminist Philosophy,” and “Environmental Ethics.” The remaining courses must be selected from each of eight categories that deal with core social justice concepts like inequality, “cultural expressions,” and the ideological underpinnings of the discipline.

Students interested in pursuing social justice as a double-major may combine their coursework with any of the 10 other majors that share the same class requirements, with OWU identifying economics, politics & government, and Spanish as particularly complementary majors.

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