Georgetown College introduced new courses designed to educate first-year students on racial inequities in the United States and ways Georgetown University can address racial injustice.
The 19 new one-credit course offerings are part of the “Just Communities” curriculum, a program designed to engage with issues of racial justice and systemic oppression in the United States. The curriculum’s courses are organized into three different categories, with 10 courses studying the role of race in different aspects of American life, six courses focusing on activism and three courses studying spirituality and self-care. Fall class registration opens for first-year students July 27.
Professors curated the courses after recent events, including the police murder of George Floyd in May and inequitable health care distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, have brought longstanding racial inequalities to the forefront of public discourse.
Women’s and gender studies professor Theodora Danylevich and Director of Health Education Services Carol Day will teach the course “Understanding and Navigating Health Inequities in the Time of COVID,” which will investigate the systemic reasons behind COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on communities of color in the United States. The disease has hospitalized and killed Native American, Black and Hispanic people at significantly higher rates than white people.
“Our 1-credit course will take a focused look at the current situation as a product of long histories of inequity and injustice,” Danylevich and Day wrote in a joint email to The Hoya. “With the contribution of Carol’s expertise in working with trauma and crisis management, students will have opportunities to reflect and process both their direct experiences with the trauma and crisis of the current moment, as well as the process of learning about difficult histories and topics.”
All “Just Communities” classes are designed to be taken in addition to a normal first-year curriculum and will be taught through a variety of formats, with some more asynchronous with self-directed work and others involving more peer interaction and small group discussions.
Another defining characteristic of the new courses is their focus on cross-subject learning, as 17 of the courses are categorized under interdisciplinary studies and two are classified under international affairs. Sherry Linkon, an English professor who will teach a course called “Race, Class, and the City: Detroit Intersections,” said she hopes students will explore new subjects and perspectives through the course.
“Anyone interested in social justice, place, urban studies, and culture would find this course interesting,” Linkon wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Georgetown has been increasingly committed to interdisciplinary work, and this is a good example of the value of approaching big issues through multiple lenses. The course also gives us a chance to dig into racial and economic justice.”
More broadly, Linkon hopes the new curriculum will encourage students to think critically about issues of race and social justice.
“I wanted to help our incoming students get the most from their first semester here, and it’s a chance for me to teach about some of the things I do research on, while also promoting good critical thinking about social justice,” Linkon wrote. “Students will also come out of the course having learned some strategies for critical reading and analysis. But I also think it will be fun — which sounds strange when we’re talking about a city known for racial divides and economic struggle, but we also get to listen to Motown and spoken word poetry, consider how photographs and murals work, and more.”
Danylevich and Day share Linkon’s sentiments and hope the new courses will help prepare students to tackle injustice outside the classroom.
“Through more informed understanding of today’s intersecting pandemics of racism and COVID-19, students will develop skills in noticing and attending to ways in which forms of oppression exist in daily life,” Danylevich and Day wrote. “It is also our aim to co-create a space in which we collectively imagine alternatives in which ‘daily life’ can take shape with less daily harm.”