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School of Media : Culture : Design

Master of Arts in Social Justice

One-Year Online Program

Woodbury University’s Master of Arts in Social Justice program answers the world’s call for qualified leaders who are committed to creating the change so desperately needed in the world today. The program empowers graduate students to cultivate expertise in the field of social justice. Students develop advanced skills, civic engagement experience, and the background necessary to promote lasting, sustainable change.

Launching Fall 2023.
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BE THE CHANGE

Flexible Program

This one-year online master’s program has been designed with synchronous (evening/weekend) and asynchronous elements to accommodate working professionals. Our interdisciplinary MA in Social Justice program integrates an array of academic options, providing opportunities for social justice emphasis in the fields of media, design, liberal arts, business, architecture, and customized possibilities.

OUR MISSION

Generating Positive Change

Our mission is to cultivate expertise in a wide array of socially responsible change-making. Students develop increased specialization within various areas of social justice work including media production, social entrepreneurship, research, and socially responsible design. This one-year online graduate program emphasizes interdisciplinarity as students apply social justice concepts to specific projects generating positive change.

Julio Barrenzuela
Alumni Spotlight
Alumnus

Julio Barrenzuela

As Salsa Ambassador from the state of Illinois, Julio specializes in using salsa dancing to enhance personal and cultural empowerment. He has been an Outreach Director at Soldiers Who Salsa and is currently a Cultural Media Consultant for Salsa 29 Productions.

“The grad school experience gave me the academic confidence to effectively participate in my city’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) outreach efforts as a cultural media producer.”

Courses

The MA in Social Justice Program consists of 10 required courses: a six-course core, a three-course thesis sequence, and one civic engagement experience (internship). This course is fully online, offering classes in synchronous, asynchronous & hybrid formats.

 

This online program offers asynchronous and synchronous classes, as well as hybrid classes. The classes in the below course descriptions have notes on how classes are offered.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

Synchronous Online Learning is scheduled learning taking place in “real-time” using video conferencing software.

Asynchronous Online Learning is self-paced learning in which students access course materials utilizing course management software with little to no “real-time” interaction requirements.

Hybrid is an online course integrating elements of both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

TEN REQUIRED COURSES:
  • Concepts in Social Justice
  • Proseminar: Creating Social Change
  • Social and Creative Entrepreneurship
  • Thesis: Proposal
  • Advanced Concepts in Social Justice
  • History of Social Justice Media
  • Dialogue for Racial Justice
  • Thesis: Implementation
  • Civic Engagement Internship
  • Thesis: Completion

Concepts in Social Justice (3 units, lecture, online: synchronous)
In this course we explore concepts of social justice, and examine frameworks for change. We highlight diversity, equity and inclusion as well as intersectionality, and consider strategies for implementing positive social change in contemporary movements. Social justice topics include (but are not limited to) race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, aging, intersectionality, environmental issues, health, mental illness, education, poverty, and human welfare.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Explore theories of social justice
  • Examine frameworks for change and contemporary movements
  • Analyze links between societal factors (including media) and social change
  • Understand and recognize the importance of DEI and intersectionality in social justice work

Course Content:
Theories of social justice highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as intersectionality; frameworks for change (media, politics and economics, socially responsible design, social entrepreneurship, and education); and case studies in social transformation, including Black Lives Matter, Me Too/Time’s Up, and the Sunrise Movement.

 

Proseminar: Creating Social Change (3 units, lecture, online: synchronous)
In this course we map out strategies for solving persistent social problems and creating lasting change. We examine the process of changemaking from a transdisciplinary perspective and explore the cultural factors and dynamics that make social change possible. We discuss specific case studies presented by faculty members from across the university. Topics may include social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, socially responsible design, civic engagement, green architecture, games for impact, or social justice documentary. Faculty members rotate through seminar meetings, introducing their areas of specialty within the overall field of social justice studies. This allows for a transdisciplinary understanding of social justice topics, and introduces students to potential thesis advisors.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop solution-based orientation
  • Increase awareness of affiliated faculty members and their work
  • Recognize the transdisciplinarity inherent within social justice studies

Course Content:
Topics are presented by rotating faculty members. Possible topics include (but are not limited to) social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, socially responsible design, civic engagement, green architecture, games for impact, or social justice documentary.

 

Social and Creative Entrepreneurship (3 units, lecture, online: asynchronous)
In this course students examine social entrepreneurship in the global creative economy, a vital force in the 21st century. We cover the fundamentals of the creative economy and social entrepreneurship, and teach students how to participate. After learning about various action models, students identify areas of interest, develop an “intent to plan,” and establish social justice goals.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Increase understanding of methods used in social and creative entrepreneurship
  • Apply methods to specific projects within the field of social justice studies
  • Analyze effectiveness of methods and strategies

Course Content:
Topics include social entrepreneurship, the creative economy, the global economy, and case studies regarding movements and methods. We will be exploring work by Susan Davis and David Bornstein (Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know), David Bornstein (How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurship and the Power of New Ideas), Richard Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class), and Charles Leadbetter (The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur).

 

Thesis Project: Proposal/Implementation/Completion

(3 units, lecture, online: asynchronous with synchronous elements, repeatable)
This is a repeatable course taken three times. Since it is mostly asynchronous (except for the first introductory class and synchronous presentations of ongoing work three times per semester), it caters to each individual student’s stage in the process. Students taking this course for the first time focus on developing thesis proposals and identifying thesis advisors. Students taking this course for the second time work with thesis advisors (1st Reader) and the program advisor (2nd Reader) to implement proposal plans. Students taking this course for a third time focus on completing thesis projects. Classmates provide feedback and peer review.

Learning Outcomes (depending on stage in the process):
Proposal:

  • Define individual area of interest within the field of social justice
  • Develop a thesis proposal related to area of interest

Implementation:

  • Implement thesis projects
  • Develop research and organizational skills

Completion:

  • Complete thesis projects
  • Fine-tune research and organizational skills

All Students:

  • Contribute to a collaborative working environment

Course Content:
Varies depending on thesis project. Stages of proposal development: brainstorming, topic development, preliminary bibliography, annotated bibliography, outlining, rough draft, revisions, final draft, presentation. The next stage includes thesis implementation, consultation with thesis advisors and program advisor, and collaboration with classmates. The final stage includes continuing consultation, collaboration, and work towards completion.

Advanced Concepts in Social Justice (3 units, lecture, online: synch + asynchronous, 7wk)
This advanced course examines social justice by exploring specific theorists in relationship to historical movements. We analyze social justice movements of the past century including the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, Environmentalism, and the Animal Rights Movement. Through this advanced inquiry, we highlight the necessity of understanding social and historical context in any effort to create positive social change.  (Prerequisite: MASJ 50X)

Learning Outcomes:

  • Analyze theories of social justice, connecting concepts to historical examples
  • Develop familiarity with key writers in the field of social justice
  • Hone writing and research skills

Course Content:
Key texts from historical social justice movements. Readings include works by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, bell hooks, Jonathan Katz, Audre Lorde, Randy Shilts, Rachel Carson, Henry David Thoreau, and Bill McKibben.

 

Dialogue for Racial Justice (3 units, lecture, online: synchronous)
This course examines the importance of dialogue in social justice movements. Readings focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), intercultural flexibility, empathy, and awareness. Experiential education elements are included to encourage intercultural dialogue, exchange, and conflict resolution. Students review the importance of such concepts as dialogism and intersectionality. (Prereq: MASJ 50X)

Learning Outcomes:

  • Acknowledge and discuss cultural difference in a respectful manner
  • Demonstrate intercultural flexibility
  • Develop effective collaboration and conflict resolution skills

Course Content:
Key topics include dialogism, intercultural flexibility, collaboration, and conflict resolution.  We also cover identify formation, culture shock, and ethnocentrism, and review DEI and intersectionality.

 

History of Social Justice Media (3 units, lecture, online: synch + asynchronous, 7wk)
In this course we examine the struggle for social justice through a mediated lens. Media are part of the solution, but they also work to perpetuate structures of inequity. We discuss how media forms both mirror and construct social realities. Throughout the course, we address questions regarding representation in photography, film + television, music, radio, and digital media. (Prerequisite: MASJ 50X)

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop familiarity with the history of social justice media in a variety of forms
  • Recognize the link between media and social change
  • Perform a close analysis of specific media examples

Course Content:
Key topics include social justice photography (early documentary photography, war photography, images and activism), film + television (early documentary, social issue documentary, Hollywood and social justice, and TV breakthroughs), music (protest music, concerts for causes), and digital media (socially responsible design, games for impact, social media).

Thesis Project (repeatable, see description in fall term)
(3 units, lecture, online: asynchronous with synchronous elements)
The second time students take this course they work on implementing proposal plans.

Civic Engagement and Analysis (3 units, lecture, online: asynchronous)
This course focuses on collaboration between community partners and students in an internship. Students commit to working remotely for a nonprofit social justice organization or movement related to the thesis project. Students also complete readings regarding civic engagement, community organizing, and social entrepreneurship. Assignments include: contract, journal, case study, ongoing engagement plan, and reflective statement.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recognize the importance of community engagement
  • Analyze the role of organizations and movements in social change
  • Establish relationships with social justice workers in the field

Course Content:
Experiential learning in the field, community organizing and civic engagement, leadership in social justice organizations

 

Thesis Project (repeatable, see description in fall term)
(3 units, lecture, online: asynchronous with synchronous elements)
The third time students take this course they work towards thesis project completion.

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How to Apply

The university will consider applicants from all students with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The Admissions Committee will review those who apply with a lower GPA on a case-by-case basis. Please submit the following requirements by the application deadline of July 1st for the fall semester (priority deadline is March 1st).

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Admission Requirements – Domestic Applicants
  • Online application
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal Statement (250-500 words): How would you like to change the world? What tools (in what field) will you use to address a specific social problem? Please discuss any relevant experience.
  • Recommendation letters (3)
  • Professional resume
Admission Requirements – International Applicants
  • In addition to the domestic applicant requirements
    • Official TOEFL/IELTS score report
    •  Evaluation of international transcripts
    • Copy of passport and/or visa
    • Financial guarantee
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