How do you take your passion for change and turn it into something more?
At St. Edward's University, we offer Experiential Learning for Social Justice courses across disciplines. These courses bring to life the mission of the university: They give students real-world, community-based experiences that help them broaden and deepen their understanding of social problems. You might complete a service-learning project, work with an Austin-based corporation or interest group, land an internship, or conduct research on social and public policy issues with a professor. It is a hands-on opportunity to learn about a subject by immersing yourself in the subject.
Here are just some of the courses that our students take to expand their understanding of social justice.
Social Responsibility of Business
Are businesses responsible for creating a more just world? Explore the new social, environmental and ethical responsibilities of the corporate world and gain an understanding of the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in this course. You'll analyze a company's CSR report to learn how businesses can use responsible decision-making processes aimed at solving social problems while still making a profit. You'll create a product or service that has a social purpose for a developing country. You'll also participate in a S.E.R.V.E One Day project through the university's Campus Ministry Office.
PR for Nonprofit Organizations
Not only is public relations (or PR) key to building mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their stakeholders, it can also be used for the common good. You'll learn about the process and the practice of public relations through case studies and follow nonprofit organizations using PR to make a positive social impact. Students also plan and prepare their own projects for Austin nonprofit organizations. Students in this class have most recently designed PR plans, tactics and events for We Are Blood (Austin blood bank) and Keep Austin Fed (food recovery and donation).
Justice, Peace and Liberation
Issues of justice and peace go back centuries, and in this course, you'll examine them within the context of the Gospel of Jesus. Grounded in the teachings of the Israelite prophets and the New Testament teachings of Jesus, you'll look at current issues in light of modern Catholic social doctrine. The course is immersive, as we study issues of justice and consider first-hand testimony from today's voices of change. We take in the words of Bryan Stevenson, Isabel Wilkerson, Jason Reynolds and Gloria Anzaldua, among others, because these individuals focus on racial justice and tell powerful stories. These readings complement what you'll learn from community members who interact with our class and share their practical knowledge as well as their specific expertise.
Rhetoric and Public Memory
How does the public remember the past, and what is its relationship to the present? You'll explore a wide variety of artifacts related to memory studies — museums, memorials, monuments, highway markers, images and photographs, popular music and eulogies — within distinct thematic contexts. You'll study slavery, the Civil Rights movement, war, terrorism, and forgiveness and reconciliation through the construct of public memory. You'll also explore the tension between remembering and forgetting, conflicts between official and vernacular cultures, the role of memory in supporting and contesting dominant ideologies, and the intersection of memory, identity and public policy.
Experiential learning plays an important role in the course as you will find yourself analyzing one of many memory places and artifacts on our campus, whether that be the Grotto, the Main Building or the Brothers of the Holy Cross Garden. In the culminating project, you'll also have an opportunity to visit a memory site in Austin or elsewhere, including the state capitol building, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, or the statues of Barbara Jordan, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez on the University of Texas campus.
Physical Activity, Recreation and Sports for Special Populations
Learn how to design and implement activities for individuals with limitations and special needs — and why it's important. Through public service, students will become familiar with various special populations and methods by which to serve their needs in recreation, sports and physical fitness. You'll work one-on-one with a person (or persons) with special needs in places like Austin Adapted Sports, Special Olympics, the SNAP program at OakHill YMCA, Austin Adventurers, or with our local branch of the Austin AISD Greater Opportunities Project, for example. You'll walk away from the course with a level of comfort when working with individuals who may do things in unique ways.
The Civics Lab
In the Civics Lab, you'll engage in practical and applied civics activities that work toward solving public policy dilemmas in Austin, throughout Texas, and on the national level. You'll write real press releases, testify at legislative hearings in the Texas Capitol, meet with state legislators, and join coalitions and grassroots organizations in an environment that gives you an opportunity to experiment with the concepts you are learning at St. Edward's University. The lab is a place to learn by doing and putting into practice the coursework and ideas you're exploring. Any major is welcome to join the Civics Lab — for many, it is a life-changing and career path decision to join.
Creative Strategy and Design
Nonprofit organizations face challenges in getting the word out about their mission and their need for volunteers and funding. Students build their skills in Adobe Creative Cloud design programs such as Photoshop and InDesign to create materials for Austin clients to use in promoting their organizations. The materials might include posters, social media posts, signs for city buses and more. Last semester students partnered with Any Baby Can to produce materials promoting their mission to strengthen families through education and resources to help them achieve their best.
Digital Media Production and Design
You'll learn how to approach storytelling from an interactive design standpoint and explore how and why certain multimedia techniques may allow for a deeper understanding of the world around us. This past spring, students in the course worked on the School-to-Prison Pipeline Reporting Project, which is a collaborative reporting project between social work and journalism students at St. Edward’s. The project was developed through the Innovation Institute as a means for students to synthesize course material, engage with their community and create original content for the digital space.
Feminist Perspectives on Social Change
You'll examine current work by feminist theorists on issues related to gender, feminism, rhetoric and communication, then engage directly in issues such as audience, co-cultures, power, race and feminist popular culture. You'll also complete a semester-long project that can be volunteering or a creative project. Examples from previous years include: songwriting, sculpture, graphic novels, websites and documentary films — all related to a topic from our class that you want to explore more deeply.