First Cohort of Students Graduate with Solidarity & Social Justice Minor

“I’ve always had a passion for social justice issues,” says psychology major Katie Rosenberger ’17. Rosenberger is among the first cohort of Gonzaga students to graduate with the Solidarity and Social Justice (SOSJ) minor at this spring’s Commencement. Established in the fall of 2015, the minor aims to give students the tools and knowledge to address contemporary social justice issues and to do so in whatever field they pursue once they graduate.

“The minor has really opened my eyes to the wide variety of injustices experienced by people all around me,” Rosenberger says. “You have the power to help change those structures and better people’s lives by being an advocate and standing with them.”

This fall, she will begin the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program through Gonzaga’s School of Education. Rosenberger has long wanted to have her own private mental health practice, but because of her experiences in the SOSJ program, she now intends to contribute some of her services to social programs for those who don’t have access to mental health care.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Shannon Dunn

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Shannon Dunn, who teaches the program’s Introduction to Solidarity and Social Justice class, says, “I know that many of the students who graduate with the minor will go on to do amazing work with non-profit organizations, broad-based community organizing, and more generally within their communities.” In Dunn’s course, students learn the foundations they will build upon throughout the program, important skills like identifying the causes of injustice and finding ways to create positive social change.

“We need to be teaching and learning about empathy more than ever,” Dunn says. “I am energized by the questions, the activism, and the challenges that students of all backgrounds bring to the class.”

Students with majors from departments across the College have embraced the SOSJ minor, and the curriculum is interdisciplinary by design. Other than the required introductory course and a senior praxis course which asks students to take on an internship within a justice-oriented organization, students are offered a range of courses—crosslisted with departments like Philosophy, Religious Studies, English, Broadcasting, and more—around which they can tailor their study of social justice.

Sociology major Angela Balistreri ’17, who also minored in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, decided to pursue the SOSJ minor as a natural capstone to her other fields of study. She believes the Solidarity and Social Justice Minor has helped her discern her “personal call to action.”

“This minor has provided me with a greater awareness of what faces aren’t being seen and what voices aren’t being heard in all areas of life, whether it’s academically, professionally, or personally. As I go out in the world I must continue expanding my understanding of the experiences of people different than myself.”

The College of Arts & Sciences’ Mission is to develop women and men for others, ready to face the intellectual, vocational, and spiritual challenges of today and tomorrow, and the Social Justice and Solidarity minor puts that mission into action.

Congratulations to the program’s first graduates!

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