Gavilan College Adds New Transfer Degree in Social Justice Studiesby on Feb 9, 2018
Official notification flowed down from Sacramento late January, informing Gavilan College the application for a Social Justice Studies ADT/AA-T was approved by the Chancellor's Office, notching Gavilan's transfer degree count up to 23.
The approval culminated three years of collaborative work across social sciences faculty, instruction office, counseling staff and articulation office. More than 25 people provided input, guided program cohesion and developed new curriculum.
A degree in transition
"Leah Halper was the driving force for this ADT," said Nick Park, sociology instructor.
Halper, who developed the Social Sciences/Community Studies AA during her sabbatical in 2007, noted a decline in student interest for the existing degree. It also did not mesh with the state's new Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) requirements. Beginning in 2015, the social sciences department – anthropology, cultural geography, history, political science, psychology, sociology – explored the core classes to include. They concluded a Social Justice Studies degree, an interdisciplinary program, would attract students.
"In 2016, many students were paying attention to national and international politics," said Halper, "asking for ways they could do more to participate in building a positive future."
By Spring 2017, the first core class, Intro to Women's Studies, was submitted to the curriculum committee. Shortly afterward, the draft of the ADT was completed.
The final narrative states in part, "Students who wish to be informed citizens committed to strategic, accountable, and reflective engagement in business, government, non-profit, science, humanities, and artistic careers will find Social Justice Studies coursework helpful and inspiring."
It takes a village
At the conclusion, it may look straightforward: a list of required core, elective and GE courses. But from initial draft to final approval, the ADT team spent hours matching the proposed degree to state requirements outlined in the Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC) templates. Bonnie Donovan, curriculum specialist in the instruction office, and Rosa Sharboneau, college articulation officer, were key to its success.
"The TMC templates were revised multiple times in the early days of the law," said Donovan, referring to the ADT degrees made possible through SB 440. The legislation stipulates that community college students earning transfer degrees receive priority admittance to California State University (CSU) programs. The bill also requires that CSU campuses accept transfer associate degrees (AA-T) for the majors and concentrations offered at each campus.
"Community college students fulfilling the ADT requirements receive a seamless transfer into the CSU system to complete a baccalaureate degree," said Donovan.
"Each time the requirements changed, I had to complete the most recent version," she said. "Rosa Sharboneau played a major role in this process. None of this work could have been done without her."
Master of curriculum, minutiae and shifting requirements, Donovan had to complete the most recent TMC version each time it changed. Working with Sharboneau, they tag teamed to identify C-ID Descriptors, peg submission dates, and collaborate with course reviewers and CSU articulation officers. Early on, listing of a course could occur, then receive C-ID approval. The Chancellor's Office reversed that order, only to discover it was too restrictive. Documenting double counted units, GE units, CSU, UC acceptance, course titles and other areas also had stringent requirements for exact wording.
More curriculum in development
"I am currently in the process of designing the LGBTQ Studies course that will be added to the core curriculum," said Park. "This degree is designed to promote civic engagement, which is very much needed in the communities that Gavilan serves."
In anthropology, existing and new curriculum could be included. "I was part of department discussions from the start," said Debbie Klein, anthropology instructor. "I have proposed a new course, Global Perspectives on Food and Culture, which would fit nicely with this major."
"Learning about social justice can help students see themselves in society," said Angela Castillo, sociology instructor. "This is especially true and important for marginalized students."
Career pathways include social work, education, government services, human rights, immigration, child advocacy, environmental justice, criminal justice, disability rights and health care.
Halper anticipates interest in the major will grow over time, appealing to many students. "I wish every student could use this as a co-major!"