New minor comes to campus

The Changemaker Hub is located on the third floor of the SLP and is open to all students who want a place to study, relax, or hang out with friends. Kelly Kennedy/The USD Vista

‘Changemaking’ is no longer just a USD buzzword, but now offered as a minor starting in Spring 2018

Kelly Kennedy | Managing Editor | USD Vista

The University of San Diego has a reputation for panoramic views, Spanish architecture, and seemingly perpetual construction. Construction isn’t the only source of change on campus, and yet another one has come to campus this semester — the addition of a Changemaking minor to USD’s course catalog.

USD was designated as a Changemaker Campus in 2011 by AshokaU, a network of social entrepreneurs that focuses on education and social change. Approximately 41 universities worldwide have received this title. The launch of the Changemaker Hub, a physical space and organization focused on executing changemaking values, signaled the distinction’s ever-growing presence. ‘Changemaking’ is engrained into almost every aspect of campus life — students are referred to as ‘changemakers’ in university materials and the Changemaker Hub partners with other campus organizations to sponsor many events and programs, including the Changemaker Block Party, Changemaker Challenge, Social Change Corps, and Changemaker Faculty Fellows.

Housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Changemaking minor is an 18-unit program that includes a capstone course and interdisciplinary electives. Courses such as Changemaking 101 offers students opportunities to learn about social change initiatives and strategies.

Senior Indira Galvez explained what the word ‘changemaking’ means to her.

“I think that changemaking involves really understanding the systems of society that affect everyone,” Galvez said. “Changemaking is understanding [these systems] and being able to pinpoint flaws and changing or improving [them] as needed. It’s very action-based, but in order to have action you need to understand what’s going on.”

Galvez expressed that the  Changemaking minor is a course of study that would be of interest to her.

“I almost wish that I weren’t a senior so that I could look more into the minor,” Galvez said.

Professor Mike Williams, Director of the Changemaking Hub, explained how the new Changemaking Minor will incorporate theory and practice.

“Like other interdisciplinary fields in the liberal arts, changemaking and social innovation attempt to merge different theories and to provide case studies for us to understand how social change occurs,” Williams said.  “Through the Changemaking 101 course, students will explore this literature and learn the theories and practices that scholars, community activists, and government officials have used to promote social change.”

After four years of planning, the new Changemaking Minor is compatible with the new core curriculum that debuted this fall. The minor also includes a Changemaking Capstone course in which students will use their knowledge of changemaking principles to create a program, initiative, or social venture.

Williams explained that, in the past, students have worked on social innovation projects in their spare time and without receiving academic credit for their work. The Changemaking Capstone would change this gap in course curriculum.

The College of Arts and Sciences has been promoting the new Changemaking minor. Walker Chuppe/The USD Vista

“Currently, the Hub works with around 40-50 students per year in our Social Change Corps program where students develop a social change project,” Williams said. “We hope the minor will attract those students who want to have these types of experiences but who are unable to do this outside of the classroom. Now, students can pursue a social change project that they are interested in while earning units and fulfilling the advanced integration core requirement.”

While some students are excited about this new field of study, others have expressed skepticism about the validity of the minor.

Senior Benjamin White said that he believes the new minor does not add to USD’s reputation.

“[USD’s] accolades revolve primarily around its aesthetic qualities that make it the most beautiful campus in the world and highly touted programs in fields like engineering and the humanities,” White said. “Adding an obscure and ambiguous [minor] is unlikely to contribute any significant weight to the school’s prestige, and if the school is looking to add to its prestige, its resources would be better served hiring an esteemed faculty member or buying state-of-the-art research equipment or commissioning a study with important implications.”

Upon reviewing the curriculum of the Changemaking Minor, White expressed that he would not be interested in pursuing a related degree.

“I would not consider pursuing a minor in Changemaking if I weren’t about to graduate, because having a minor already adds dubious weight to your diploma and if I were to add one, it would be a minor with a clear educational value behind it that could be discerned by an employer,” White said. “I wouldn’t be sitting in an interview trying to explain why I added 18 more units to my total course load in order to build a park bench.

White explained why the Changemaking minor does not intrigue him.

“Additionally, Changemaking is not a field of study that interests me, because it is not really a field of study to begin with, and people’s time and money would be better served in the pursuit of an actual major or minor that adds some real value to their educational portfolio and real, applicable expertise to their skillset.”

While Changemaking 101 will launch in spring of 2018, students who have completed other courses that count toward the Changemaking minor are well on their way to finishing the program. LEAD 160 and SOCI 210, SOCI 270, or THRS 231 are all a part of the course requirements.

USD continues to expand and refine its core curriculum, and the new Changemaking Minor not only fulfills requirements within the new core curriculum, but also appeals to students who have related interests.

While not everyone may be interested in such a course of study, Changemaking is undoubedtly a part of USD’s identity that will continue to grow with the university.