Social Justice and Cultural Studies

Program Offered
  • Social Justice and Cultural Studies (major and tracks)

Social Justice and Cultural Studies Faculty

Program Directors: Kimberly Segall, PhD, and Brian Bantum, PhD

In this major, you will study culture, representation, and power in order to analyze social formations — such as gender, race, class, sexuality — and explore forms of protest, resistance, and social change. The approach to this field will be informed by Christian theologies of social justice.

This major provides a gateway to a variety of vocations such as education, human rights law, refugee work, public policy, mediation in non-governmental organizations, and environmental advocacy, as well as the creative arts (e.g., documentary film-making, graphic design, creative writing, etc.). Students focus their study by selecting one of the following tracks in the major: Advanced Cultural Studies; Art for Social Change; Meditation, Peace, and Conflict Resolution; Pre-Law Human Rights and Policy; or Environmental Justice.

  • A minimum 65 credits are required for this major, including 25 upper-division credits.
  • Students are encouraged to pursue advocacy, internship, or study abroad opportunities.

Find out more about this program’s mission, vision, and learning outcomes.

Social Justice and Cultural Studies (BA)

This major includes these five separate tracks, allowing you to pursue your specific academic and vocational interest:

Track A: Pre-law human rights and policy

For those seeking social change in areas of: immigration law, mass incarceration, refugee work, sexuality issues, gender policies, health, education, housing policies, social activism for civil rights and human rights.

  • For students interested in policy change or law school.
  • A social-science statistics course is recommended for those invested in policy change and documentation.

Track B: Art for social change

For students invested in changing the world through artistic forms, including graphic design, creative writing, playwriting, photography, and documentary film.

  • If you want to combine writing with graphic design or film production with documentary research, this track connects art and justice activism.
  • The Social Venture Planning course is recommended for those wanting to start entrepreneurship enterprises.

Track C: Mediation, peace, and conflict resolution

For students interested in social services, political/non-governmental organizations (NGOs), human resources, and social work.

  • Interested in changing the world? This track in Peace and Conflict resolution prepares you to work in a variety of corporate or social settings, preparing you to navigate socio-political schisms and mediate micro-aggressions.
  • If you want to lead small groups, this track sets a foundation for social work.
  • For future MA in Social Work, a social science statistics course is recommended.

Track D: Advanced cultural studies

For students committed to specializing in cultural studies, this track is ideal for future educators, graduate students, and double majors.

  • If you are considering a future PhD, it is helpful to take the Literary Theory class.
  • If your future graduate field is cultural studies, consider a double major with film studies or Asian studies.
  • If teaching is your vision with an MA in Education, this is your track.

Track E: Environmental justice

For students interested in environmental law and forms of public policy, this track offers skills in environmental data, statistics, research, and graph analysis in order to help you assess the impact of policy on groups of people, regarding climate change, land management, locational risks, and water shortages.

  • Concerned about the state of the world around you? This track is for future environmental lawyers, non-profits, and as a starting point for ecological research.
  • Electives in environmental science or policy are recommended for this track.
  • You are encouraged to complete an internship in environmental studies as part of your vocational exploration.

entering and completing the major

In order to earn a degree, you must complete an academic major. SPU encourages students to explore various academic paths, and students are not required to enter a major immediately upon admission to the University. However, you should enter a major by the end of your sophomore year to help ensure your timely completion of a degree. Students who transfer as juniors and seniors should identify and enter their major within their first two quarters at SPU.

  • If this is your first quarter at SPU and you wish to enter a major in this department, you may select a program by using the online Major or Minor Application form. You will receive an email notification of acceptance.
  • If you are an SPU student with an SPU cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better, use the online Major or Minor Application form to select your major. You will receive an email notification of acceptance. Students on academic probation (with an SPU cumulative GPA below 2.0) will not be permitted to enter a new major or minor until they regain good academic standing.
  • The University requires a grade of C- or better in all classes that apply to a major or minor; however, programs may require higher minimum grades in specific courses. You may repeat an SPU course only once for a higher grade.
  • To advance in this program, meet with your faculty advisor regularly to discuss your grades, course progression, and other indicators of satisfactory academic progress. If your grades or other factors indicate that you may not be able to successfully complete the major, your faculty advisor can work with you to explore options, which may include choosing a different major.
  • You must complete the major requirements in effect in the SPU Undergraduate Catalog for the year of admittance to the major.

Study abroad opportunities

South Africa: Literature and Theatre

This SPU global seminar is a study abroad program to study literature, theater, commissions, and cultures in South Africa. Taken during the month of December (after Autumn Quarter), this biennial program includes service learning. Learn more.

Spain and Morocco: Writing and Resistance

This SPU global seminar is a study abroad program to study literature and trans-national culture. Students enrolled in this every other year program, leave in late August (prior to Autumn Quarter), travelling from Seville in Moorish Spain to Meknes in Morocco. Learn more.

For details about all study abroad opportunities, visit SPU’s Study Abroad pages.

Students outside sitting on steps

English and Cultural Studies Department

Visit the English and Cultural Studies Department to see how a degree from this department can help you achieve your goals and make a difference in the world.

Time Schedule: Social Justice and Cultural Studies

  • Social Justice and Cultural Studies courses
  • All courses

Course planning

Suggested course sequences help you complete your degree in a timely manner.