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ASU introduces certificates in social transformation

Professor Mary Margaret Fonow in office
December 30, 2011

ASU undergraduate and graduate student changemakers in any field now have the opportunity to complete certificate programs in social transformation – and can begin taking courses toward the program in January 2012.

The School of Social Transformation in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has designed these new 15-unit certificates to prepare leaders and innovators skilled in using interdisciplinary approaches to address social issues and create proposals for change. The certificates can be combined with any major or degree program at ASU or can be picked up as a credential by non-degree-seeking students. And undergraduates pursuing BIS (bachelor of independent study) degrees may now choose social transformation as one of their concentration areas.

“In a world faced with tremendous challenges, we know that creative approaches are needed to find new answers to old questions,” says Mary Margaret Fonow, director of the School of Social Transformation. “Students today are passionate about ‘being the change’ when they recognize injustices and situations where they have the ideas and talents to make a difference. By understanding the successes and challenges of historical movements for change and working in applied settings, students in these certificate programs will be challenged to seek new and innovative solutions to pressing challenges.”

In spring 2012, Fonow will team teach the new foundation course for the graduate certificate in social transformation with Daniel Schugurensky, professor, SST 591/WGS 591/JUS 591 Foundations of Social Change. A new foundations course for the undergraduate certificate will be offered for the first time in fall 2012, but students may begin taking elective courses next semester, many of which fulfill general studies requirements. 

Students in the certificate will study local and global mobilization, including civil rights movements, labor movements, democracy movements, movements for global justice and for gender equality, and learn how traditionally marginalized communities have achieved institutional, political, cultural, and economic change. The graduate certificate will emphasize theory and research, while the undergraduate emphasizes application and students complete a hands-on capstone experience.

The new certificates draw on the transdisciplinary strengths of the nation’s first School of Social Transformation – which brings together scholars in African and African American studies; Asian Pacific American studies; culture, society and education; justice and social inquiry; and women and gender studies – and brings in faculty from across ASU whose research and teaching address social change, transformational knowledge, and community engagement.

Already approved for the certificates, for example, are elective courses beyond the School of Social Transformation – in history, religion, sociology, transborder studies, communications, non-profit leadership and management, theatre, music history, English, American Indian studies, and urban and metropolitan studies.

“Like our certificates in human rights and in economic justice, these have a very applied focus and are especially relevant for students interested in social innovation and social entrepreneurship,” Fonow said. “Our aim is to help students make a real difference in their communities.”