The School of Social Transformation

I spoke at Arizona State University on Tuesday and had the pleasure of being introduced to a new academic model that they are pioneering to not only institutionalize the importance of intersectional analysis, but also insert activism in an undeniable way. It’s call the School of Social Transformation. From their new website:

Four units comprise the new School of Social Transformation. Our school brings together four distinct interdisciplinary fields of inquiry with unique identities, histories, constituencies, affiliations, intellectual frameworks and topics of inquiry.

Those are: African and African American Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies, Justice and Social Inquiry, and of course, Women and Gender Studies. How cool is that? It will be fun to see if other schools pick up on this model of interdisciplinary, social justice-oriented, cross-curricular collaboration. It mirrors the real world of work and activism in very significant ways, not to mention being politically viable and intellectually honest. Congrats to the ASU folks for being so visionary.

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7 Comments

  1. ShareseL
    Posted October 15, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow. This seems like quite the course of study. Props to ASU and I very much look forward to hearing more about the program. Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. valencia_o
    Posted October 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t this the same school that deemed President Obama “too inexperienced” to receive an honorary degree as commencement speaker?

  3. Comrade Kevin
    Posted October 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see a forward thinking model like that emerge, particularly in great contrast to my alma mater which has recently combined several disparate and utterly unrelated departments together for the sake of cost-cutting rather than a mutually beneficial pairing of like disciplines.

  4. baddesignhurts
    Posted October 15, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    i’m a grad student as ASU (in architecture and building science), and when i heard about this new school, i was thrilled. i wasn’t able to come see you, courtney (deadlines looming!), but i hope you enjoyed tempe, it’s the best time of the year to be here!
    and re: not giving pres. obama an honorary degree when he spoke at graduation in may, the statement wasn’t that he was inexperienced, it was that “his body of work is still to come”. so instead of an honorary degree, they formed a scholarship program for low-income students in arizona (because much of the state is very poor and unserved by the universities) in his name. in his speech, obama discussed how all of our bodies of work are still to come, and said he much preferred the scholarship program. it was so inspiring, i and much of the audience and graduates were in tears. (my fiance, who is an occasional commenter here, got his masters’ degree.) AND, pres. obama shook the hands of the first group of obama scholars (including one from my alma mater!). it was fabulous.

  5. jruka
    Posted October 15, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Roosevelt University (in Chicago) has the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation.
    Worth looking into, as their programs (similar to the ones at ASU) infiltrate all aspects of campus life.
    Not to mention, RU is one-of-a-kind in its Social Justice mission, the courses it offers (including one on whitness in a global society–a class unlike any other at any other U) and its president is the first openly Gay University president. Furthermore, it was opened as a school for non-traditional aged college students post WWII, whom otherwise would not have the money/resources to go to college.
    I may be biased because I go there, but it is a school that goes completely underrated in a society where $ and the size of student body matters.

  6. fsu
    Posted October 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    It’d be nice if there was International Studies too.
    I guess Asian Pacific and African studies would count toward that? But what about Latin America, Europe, South Asia and the Middle East? Those are important regions of the world.
    IMO, too many social justice courses/studies departments are really insular and American-centric.

  7. joelfrominwood
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    some have already been mentioned (RU), but does anyone know of similar programs? I’m looking at environmental justice at UMich, but I’m unaware of a similar program anywhere, and I’d like to see more of what’s out there in this vein.

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