We are living in an exciting and critical historical moment on the planet with respect to leadership and social change, one that demands an influx of informed, visionary leaders to address the opportunities and challenges the world is facing today. The women, leadership, and social change (WLSC) minor at Mills responds to this challenge and offers students the opportunity to build their leadership capacities and commitments in social change realms. Drawing on the nationally recognized Mills College Institute for Civic Leadership (ICL), which is housed within the School of Education, this minor combines curriculum, mentorship, workshops, speaker series, and community internships to support students in making firm connections between their academic work and their social change passions.
Course offerings for the WLSC minor are interdisciplinary, and minor requirements are structured to provide students the opportunity to study and explore the issues and approaches that have shaped and defined social justice theory and activism around the world. With an approach that is both theoretical and experiential, the WLSC minor is designed to ground learning within action, allowing students to work directly on issues they care about as they move through the program.
The WLSC minor complements a wide range of majors. The ICL program grows out of the perspective that our society needs people in every sector—education, business, medicine, technology, art, etc.—who have been trained to think and operate from a social justice perspective. Thus, the WLSC minor builds a bridge between each student’s academic work and their passions to affect positive social change within their areas of interest, and also provides a strong foundation for graduate work in a number of different disciplines.
Students enrolled in the WLSC minor take three required courses and three electives covering a wide range of disciplines. An understanding of social change leadership as a discipline and a practice is grounded through the Women’s Civic Leadership Seminar. Theory is put into practice in the course Inquiry and Action in Urban Settings, through which students participate in a community internship. Lastly, the course US Literature and Social Change presents a survey of social change movements through the lens of the social text, and teaches writing skills for use as a tool for social change. In addition to taking the required and elective courses, students pursuing the WLSC minor are eligible to participate in ICL programing. ICL partners with many outstanding community organizations such as Bay Area Non-Violent Communication, Allegory Training, Start Dialog, and others that provide training designed to build skills and networks in social change realms. Activities include mentoring by local leaders, program retreats, speakers, workshops, and community dinners.
The interconnectedness of our world today calls on leaders to be lifelong learners, ever striving to increase their knowledge and skills. The WLSC minor provides solid ground for developing and building a learner’s mind and for equipping students to effect positive social change as they move through the process.
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