Mercer students major in changing the world. While it’s a popular catchphrase on many of the signs across campus, here’s the real question: how do you change the world? That answer can be found in one of Mercer’s new certificate programs: applied social justice.
Proposed by Natalie Bourdon to the Mercer University’s Women’s and Gender Studies executive committee, the program has been approved for the second semester in the spring of 2019.
Bourdon explained that the program is being added now largely because of the opportunity to engage in social justice in the current political climate and to allow students to give back to the community.
“We are in a pretty special time in American history right now,” Bourdon said. “It’s comparable to the Civil Rights movement, in this time we’re facing now, in terms of the amount of activist and advocacy initiatives we see around the country.
The certificate program has three mandatory components. The first is a required course called Engaging in Social Justice, which will be offered for the first time next semester.
Bourdon said the course is rather unique in design, with an added bonus of hearing many guest lecturers on a wide variety of topics in how they work in social justice. Students will be able to learn how, no matter their major, they can also apply social justice.
Along with the required course, students will choose three other courses from a list of already existing courses that, in some way, deal with social justice. The courses come from a variety of disciplines, including history, chemistry and more.
Finally, there is an experiential component. Students will have to design or participate in an already active activist initiative for 50 hours.
“I think that the certificate is one really good way for students to become engaged in and involved in community activism and organizing and really making a positive impact. There’s a lot of issues that need to be addressed right now,” Bourdon said.
The program’s length varies from student to student, but may take up to a year and a half, according to Bourdon. During this time, and before starting the program, students must be in good academic standing, enrolled in Mercer University, and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.
Outside of that, the certificate is open to students of all majors, minors and concentrations.
“The certificate will, I think, maybe give students more of that optimistic outlook that, ‘y’know what, we can change people’s ideas and behavior and practices one individual, one group of people, at a time,’” Bourdon said.