A & S may offer new minor in “social change”

By on March 25, 2003

By Adam Schagene

Spurred on by the urgings of student activist Mateo Bernal, Dr. John T. Cumbler is spearheading a drive to set up a minor in social change. Cumbler sent out a message on the University of Louisville’ Peace and Justice listserv concerning the development of a concentration in social change. Receiving strong responses, Cumbler proceeded to organize a committee of interested faculty which has met twice and developed a mission statement and a philosophy statement to meet the requirements of creating a new minor.

The committee will meet again today in an attempt to finalize the courses that will be included in the minor. As it stands, the minor will have a required internship that students will choose with approval and input from the faculty director. “The idea is that the student will work with the director to pick an internship that fits the student’s needs,” Cumbler said. A general seminar will also be required. Besides these two courses, the student will have a selection of required core courses and a choice of electives. At this time, the total number of required hours will be 19.

The minor will be unique in that the classes will span the entire College of Arts and Sciences. Students can get different perspectives on the process of social change depending on which aspect they wish to study: the history of social change, the rhetoric of social change, etc. Courses will be divided into different categories based on themes: race, gender, class struggle, ethnicity, the environment, violence and peace.

Committee members say they are attempting to cover all varieties of social change and social movements. At this time, however, the committee is picking courses that already exist and is therefore limited in what it can use. The minor in social change is being billed as helpful for any student. Bernal said, “Whether you want to be a politician or work for a nonprofit organization, this would be a beneficial minor for you to take.”

The multi-departmental format will be unique in that this minor will not be classified under any one department, but will be an interdisciplinary program. At some point in the future, the committee hopes to develop new classes that will be specifically for the minor, yet flexible enough to fit into an independent major.

The concentration in social change has steps to climb before it can be established as a minor. The first of these is a review by the College Curriculum Committee, which will determine whether the proposed courses meet the guidelines set forth under the mission and philosophy statements. If approved at this juncture, the minor will be put under a college-wide vote by all Arts and Sciences faculty. If the first two steps are cleared, the provost will have the task of final approval.

The listserv provided a forum for Cumbler to communicate with like-minded individuals, students and faculty alike, and quickly get the present committee together. The effort, which is based in the College of Arts and Sciences, will not affect any other school within the university. The committee is looking to the formation of a women’s studies minor some two decades ago as an example of how to set this program up.

The committee undertaking this process consists of nine faculty members throughout the College of Arts and Sciences and will eventually have two permanent student members. The faculty members are Marc Bousquet, English; John Cumbler, history; Julia Dietrich, English; Tracy K’Meyer, history; Avery Kolers, philosophy; Edwin Segal, anthropology; Nancy Theriot, women’s studies; Russell Vandenbroucke, theatre arts; and Eileen John, philosophy.

In order for this project to develop into a program, student involvement must occur. Students are encouraged and welcomed to inquire.

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