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New Minor on the Horizon: Activism and Social Justice

Professor joins students and faculty, proposes new minor

Sofia Francisco (’22), Nourhan Mesbah (’22), Monica Saad (’22), and Jacqueline Bengtson (’22) participate in a Black Lives Matter march. Photo: Courtesy of Rollins BSU.

Members of the Critical Media and Cultural Studies (CMC) department plan to propose a new interdisciplinary minor titled Activism and Social Justice. The minor was set to complete the approval process in Spring 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19. 

CMC Department Chair Lisa Tillmann, who coordinated the group that drafted the minor’s proposal, hosted a virtual meeting last week to address next steps. The team of faculty and staff plan to gather the support of more departments, programs, and units of the college to endorse the proposal. 

“I am hoping that we will have an even more robust set of co-sponsors,” said Tillmann. Despite the chaos of the election and the pandemic, Tillmann said that “we feel like there is interest, there is momentum, and there is energy behind this at a time when nobody seems to have energy for much of anything. So, we are going forward!” 

To appeal to the administration at a fiscally challenging time, the minor needs to be either cost-neutral or generate revenue. Tillmann does not see this as a challenge; she said that the minor will attract student candidates as well as retain students with a deep interest in activism and social justice. According to Tillman and students, the Activism and Social Justice minor is incredibly relevant to our society today. 

“More and more people are recognizing the privilege of being apolitical, uninvolved, and apathetic about social issues,” said Papaa Kodzi (‘21), president of the Rollins Black Student Union (BSU). The minor will serve as a guide in understanding the complexities of privilege and oppression and allow students to dive deeper into activism as a whole.

Kodzi eagerly took part in the development of the minor in spring 2020: “I feel like Rollins is really a school of activists. I feel like a lot of us are socially conscious, politically active, and we just care … Rollins really needs this. I think it would give students an outlet for the work that they want to do and the passions that they already have.”

Laura Pachon (‘21), president of Amnesty International, also took part in the development of the minor: “[Activism and Social Justice] is needed in order for people to advocate for things they believe are unjust and unequal in society.”

No matter what path students choose after Rollins, those involved in the creation of this new minor hope that students graduating with an Activism and Social Justice minor will have the resources and knowledge to uphold a meaningful and purposeful career in any field.

 Kodzi noted, “This minor can be applied to so many different fields because no career really is in isolation.”

Tillmann said, “I think that there is a subset of students that this will actually deepen their bond to the institution and deepen their commitment. If they are financially comfortable or successful in their lives, it may even influence their willingness to donate money to the college—helping us mentor the next generation of activists!”

Of course, with all of the hurdles that 2020 has thrown, it is difficult to predict a timeline of approval for the Activism and Social minor. However, if the minor is approved, Tillmann hopes to begin offering ASJ-prefix courses during the 2021-2022 academic year.

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