UConn creates Minor in 'social justice community organizing'

Students must also complete a "service learning/internship," during which they will practice "community organizing and political advocacy" in the real world.

The University of Connecticut is launching a new minor in "Social Justice Organizing" starting in the Fall semester, which requires at least 15 credits in courses addressing "social identities" and "structural inequalities."

The University of Connecticut now offers a minor in “Social Justice Organizing” that offers students the opportunity to practice “community organizing and political advocacy.”

According to the university, the minor “provides interdisciplinary classroom instruction in the theories, histories and formation of social identities, structural inequalities, and movements to foster social justice and equity in the United States.”

In order to complete the minor, students must complete 15 credits from a pre-approved selection of courses, including at least three credits from courses addressing “Identities, Intersections, and Categories of Analysis” (Group A) and “State Structures and Systems of Inequality and Control” (Group B), as well as six credits related to “Creating Social Justice, Equity, and Freedom” (Group C).

In addition, students must complete a “service learning/internship” (Group D), through which they are expected to “learn about valuable experiences and practical skills in social justice community organizing.”

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Among the courses available to fulfill the Group A requirement is one called “Masculinities,” which focuses on the “social construction of masculinity and how maleness is gendered” and aims to examine “the multiple forms of masculinity as influenced by differences in social and cultural expressions of gender, race, ethnicity, class, nationality, sexuality, disability, and subcultures.”

Black Feminist Politics” is one of the options for Group C. UConn describes the class as “an introduction to major philosophical and theoretical debates at the core of black feminist thought,” which emphasizes “the ways in which interlocking systems of oppression uphold and sustain each other.”

In the Group B category, students can take a course on “Gender Politics and Islam,” which explores the “construction of gender in Islamic texts and history, the religion’s interaction with other patriarchal cultures and systems, western interventions and their impact, male leaders’ reform efforts, [and] women’s movements.”

The final requirement, a “Service Learning/Internship” program, is an “interdisciplinary seminar” during which “students learn and work alongside other University of Connecticut students, instructors, and local activists as they examine the history of social justice organizing in the United States and gain practical skills in community organizing and political advocacy.” 

Through “practice in community organizing and political advocacy,” participants are expected to “gain familiarity with the theories, strategies, and practice of community organizing movements, such as those for immigration, environmental, reproductive, and racial justice.”

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Joseph Gatti, president of Turning Point USA at UConn, told Campus Reform that while he is a libertarian who believes that “having a school with a diverse education is a good thing,” he has his reservations about the integrity of the program.

“If schools are going to offer politically biased classes,” he said, “I think it’s important that these classes show the diversity in our politics and offer all major sides of the argument. I very much doubt this class does.”

“Leftist professors often paint a picture as if the right has never done anything good for this country,” he added, calling the practice “very disingenuous.”

The minor is offered through the Africana Studies; Asian and Asian-American Studies; El Instituto: Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies departments.  The 2018-2019 school year is the first time that the minor appears in UConn’s course catalog.

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