Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to attend the launch of two social justice/communication sites of a freshman communications course here at Cabrini College. Taught by Dr. Jerry Zurek, from the Comm department, one of the most inspiring mentors and educators that I have had (and he was never even my teacher! – clearly, i’m not saying this for a grade!), I left the class motivated and even more affirmed with the work that I was doing. Moreso, it made me even more hopeful for the upcoming generations! There is great work being done out there, but unfortunately the media does not highlight that “good stuff” as much.
BUT – this class of Comm 101 freshmen are heading in a GREAT direction.
The longer I am here at the college, the more I am impressed by the curriculum that engages students in issues of justice right off the bat – beginning in freshman year. Jerry’s part in this? He integrates his course work with social justice issues, and provides students with the opportunity to explore different ways of using communication (esp via social media) to promote awareness and raise consciousness about these perpetual societal problems.
Awesome? um, YES! Cabrini College also holds a course called, “Photography for Social Change.” Unreal!
One of the groups developed a Facebook page, Clean Cabrini, which raised issues about conflict-minerals, which are defined as: “Minerals used in cell-phones that cause conflict between human rights groups and cell-phone companies.” Perhaps you have heard of conflict diamonds…same sort of thing. If you have ever seen Blood Diamond, then you may have captured a Hollywood glimpse of what really happens behind the diamonds that so many people wear (unknowing of the lives that suffered as a result of the rock on your finger. something to think about!)
This group has the goal of making Cabrini College a conflict-free campus, and to influence other colleges to make the same choice. The Congo is the #1 poorest country in the world, and with the number of mines that are in the area, many in the population work in these conditions, receiving unjust wage and treatment.
The second group developed a blog entitled, Cabrini Food Justice, again, to educate and promote awareness of this issue that may not be at the forefront of our lives. We all need food live, but how many of us are really conscious of what makes up our intake? Fair treatment for the worker, the consumer, and the planet – that is food justice. What does this look like for Cabrini, and how can we as a community take the right steps towards healthier, more just food options on campus?
This group did a great job with their presentation, as well as with their audio-visual material, really emphasizing the climate of the food industry in poor conditions. You can check out the video here.
In listening to these presentations, something I jotted down in my notes was, “hearing about these issues (re: conflict minerals) make me lose my appetite. as if there’s a pit in my stomach somewhere…–> we must do something about it!” For me, I find that it is those thoughts that give me indicators as to where I want to go with my future actions and with how I live my life. If there is something that moves me, that causes a shift in my emotion, affecting me in some way, I need to pay attention to that. No matter what that is. Definitely takes time to explore, but it is something to pay attention to.
In this case, it’s issues of social justice. I think the beautiful part of this specifically, is integrating the academics of communication and joining it together with social justice. What are the ways that we can use our majors/areas of study to create positive social change? to start movements? to think differently of what could be?
Call it what you want – I was inspired and also challenged to take more socially-conscious steps in doing my small part towards creating a more just society.
My hope is that these students will not lose hope, but that they will continue to use their passion to drive them forward, and bring others along board with them. Sometimes people just don’t know about these issues around the world. I certainly didn’t know a lot of the details and information that they shared with me and the class, and so I was grateful! So many issues out there to explore and get involved with, and it’s nice to see what happens when faithful people come together to bring about positive change.
I believe that having information holds responsibility and sometimes, many times, it is meant to be shared, especially with regards to these issues. What I mean by that is, because of research about different issues, especially about the horrendous situation of human trafficking, the stories, hard facts, perhaps that is what has stirred up emotion and passion for others in wanting to join in bringing an end to this atrocity. If we are aware of situations of human trafficking going on, we need to bring that to attention. So many times we don’t want to step on anybody’s toes in sharing information with them – things we found interesting in class, or super informative websites that we happened to stumble upon, for fear of what others may think of us (what? he/she’s totally talking about something other than college drama?)…but – dialogue and sharing of information is key – especially when these things relate to the global community.
and seriously though, what better way to do that, than through social media? 🙂