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Social Transformation Seminars meld community education and action by bringing together researchers and practitioners to co-create a panel presentation on a social justice topic. Following the presentation is a discussion between panelists and the audience on how to effect community change and become involved in enterprises of social good.
The Social Transformation Seminars envision the moral responsibility society has to historically disenfranchised groups that continue to experience injustice. Those who research, enact, and advocate for increased moral responsibility to create a more equitable and just society are inherently engaged with issues of applied ethics.
Seminar topics for the Fall 2017 semester address issues of LGBTQIA justice, indigenous justice, refugee justice, and criminal justice. The seminars expand the notion of what constitutes expertise on an academic panel to extend beyond academia and embrace relevant work, volunteer, and embodied experience, from across sectors of academia, nonprofits, advocacy, government programs, social work, and faith-based leadership.
The impact of these Social Transformation Seminars allow panelists to co-create the topic to forge mutually beneficial, reciprocal partnerships. Cultivating those relationships results in a more robust, nuanced discussion on the topic, and may forge ongoing partnerships. Attendees of the seminars also benefit from the opportunity to discuss how to get involved in social good enterprises, as both a career trajectory and personal enrichment.
Following the hour-long panel, a more targeted half-hour long “how do I get involved” discussion will be held. This allows students to learn what positions exist in the social justice sphere, and allows them to learn what credentials and experience are best suited to a specific type of work. If community members want to attend they can learn how to volunteer, engage, and advocate for social justice in their communities too.
Ersula Ore is helping to coordinate the first round of Social Transformation Seminars. Ore is a Lincoln Professor of Ethics in the School of Social Transformation and Assistant Professor of African & African American Studies and Rhetoric at Arizona State University.