This will be the first year the new social justice minor is offered to Hendrix students. According to the course catalog, the minor aims “to develop students’ capacities to be change agents for a wide range of social justice-related vocations, such as teaching, policy, counseling, advocacy, and nonprofit work.” Dr. Dionne Jackson, Dr. Jay Barth, and Dr. Anne Goldberg worked to morph the education minor—which is no longer being offered—into the social justice minor.
“We have had many students over the years who have had interest in social justice interdisciplinary majors,” Jackson said. “We began to think about if there was a way to craft a minor that would allow our students to better explore social justice in an interdisciplinary manner and what would it look like to provide an opportunity for students to explore topics of equity as it relates to education policy, teaching, government, being members of a community and working [for a] nonprofit.”
The education minor reached a limited number of students—those who wanted to pursue a career in education—but the social justice minor is relevant to a wider group of students. Dr. Barth has his own perspective on what he would like to see come from this minor among the student body.
“More conversations about the ways in which social change can come about through the public sector, governmental sector, nonprofit sector, or even the private sector,” Barth said. “The internship experience required for the minor gives students hands-on experiences closely tied to this work, so it’s not a theoretical discussion in the classroom but is played out in terms of lived experience beyond Hendrix.”
22 students were initially interested at the info meeting held about the minor last spring. Junior Emily Jordan is currently a social justice minor with intentions to teach.
““I think the social justice minor is awesome,” Jordan said, “It’s awesome that we have that, but I do wish that we had both. I am interested in social justice issues in education but the education minor that actually certified students in the classroom was beneficial.
Jordan sees social justice as a prevalent issue in schools in America, including Arkansas. This issue lies most notably in rural areas and the delta region.
“There are really poor schools where students don’t have access to highly qualified teachers, where they might not have access to the physical resources they need [or] good schools,” Jordan said. “They’re being deprived of things that children in wealthier places are not being deprived of. Getting good teachers in those schools is so important to try and level the playing field.”