Penn State M.A. program promotes social justice

The program has reportedly been around for 40 years.

Following the national trend of public colleges including social justice courses in their graduation requirements, Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg now offers an entire degree on the subject.

Advertised on as a master’s program for “Social Justice activism,” Penn State now offers their hundreds of grad students a degree in “Master of Arts in Community Psychology and Social Change.”

According to Penn State’s website, the program emphasizes “leadership, community development, social activism and public advocacy,” to address social issues related to “crime, violence, education, child and family development, employment, immigration, social justice, climate change, social power, race, gender, and LGBT issues.”

Students that graduate with a degree in social justice activism can expect to find jobs in social services, public health, the environment, community education, community counseling, casework, social justice activism, government, NGOs, criminal justice and community-based research.

The program is coordinated by Dr. Holly, L. Angelique, chair of the Social Sciences & Psychology department and Professor of Community Psychology and Social change, according to her bio page. Her research interests include political empowerment and activism, feminism, and social change.

“I am passionate about facilitating community psychology to become ‘critical’ at its core and thus ground my work in theories of social power,” said Angelique in her blog. “I have developed two substantive research niches within my discipline: (1) public participation around environmental problems, and (2) feminism and the intersection of marginalized identities.”

She has co-authored these ideas in what she calls the “Montgomery Declaration of Critical Community Psychology”

The Declaration, mirroring the structure of the United States Constitution, lays out her vision to reevaluate the ‘policies and institutions’ of the United States, not on the basis of what is “normally acceptable,” but instead “what could be.”

Twelve other community psychologists from universities around the country signed the document which concludes that much of human suffering is “tied to social injustice” and that they are obligated to make everyone aware of inequality.

“We definitely teach our students by the principles outlined in the Montgomery Declaration,” Angelique told Campus Reform in an email.

Angelique also counts many success stories among her former students, several of which have gone on to become members of Occupy Wall Street, and individuals such as “Valerie Lorenz, who started a non-profit called the Forensic Center on Gambling, Andy Hoover who is currently the Legislative Director of ACLU of Pennsylvania, [and] Marcy Culley who is a tenured professor at the College of Coastal Georgia,” among others.

According to Angelique, the program has been around for 40 years, but hasn't always had its current name.

The university also offers its undergraduate students certificates in “Diversity in Community,” which is designed to clear up “misconceptions and apprehension arising from differences in class and ethnic background, gender, language, mental ability, physical ability, race, religion, and sexuality.”

Follow the Author on Twitter and Facebook @ willthethinker.