Critical Theory and Social Justice
Critical Theory and Social Justice (CTSJ) is the only undergraduate academic department of its kind in the U.S. Since 2006, the CTSJ major has graduated students with rigorous training in critical theory and transformative political practice. At the heart of the program is an interrogation of intersecting structures of power. Our three pillars of inquiry are interdisciplinary thought, intersectional analysis, and critical interventions. The department emphasizes the necessary relationship between critical thought and political action. Majors will learn ethical tools to effectively work within formal structures of politics and grassroots activism, and employ creative and inventive approaches to seemingly intractable problems. Majors will learn the functions and processes of formal political institutions, as well as radically transformative modes of resistance, which precede and exceed oppression. As students advance through the major, they will study in academic disciplines as diverse as psychology, political science, decolonial theory, critical race theory, Black studies, Indigenous studies, feminist theory, queer theory, biopolitics, post-modern political theory, and gender and sexuality studies.
The major has a strong emphasis on praxis. Students are required to participate in the Justice Bootcamp and the Justice Practicum. Beyond the classroom, students will be given the opportunity to engage in a clinical practicum, participate in the editorial process of the Critical Theory and Social Justice Journal, study abroad, and participate in the summer research program. Past majors facilitated local development of a neighborhood museum in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, authored foundational work in the Menarchist Movement, and gone on to become public intellectuals, community activists, and agents of political and social change at all levels of government and in non-governmental organizations.
Courses within the department are divided into three levels. Classes taught at the 100-level teach and train students how to think and act critically and rigorously across a wide range of topics, including race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. Classes taught at the 200-level teach students how to think and write clearly and analytically about methodologies and concepts. Students will also learn to speak thoughtfully and cogently in the classroom and in public places. At the 300-level students will develop competency in the intersecting bodies of work that constitute critical theory and social justice. Students in 300-level classes will be expected to develop and write research papers that demonstrate a facility with transdisciplinarity.
The major in Critical Theory and Social Justice requires eleven courses (44 units).
Students must complete the six required courses listed below.
|CTSJ 100||Introduction to Critical Theory||
|CTSJ 102||Justice Bootcamp||
|CTSJ 300||Research Methods and Critical Inquiry||
|CTSJ 390||CTSJ Junior Seminar: Interventions||
|CTSJ 398||Social Justice Practicum||
|CTSJ 490||Senior Seminar in Critical Theory - Social Justice||
The Junior Seminar will be offered during the spring semester. Students planning to travel abroad during their junior year should do so in the fall semester and may seek approval of the department chair to have one study abroad class count as a CTSJ elective. All requests must include the following: the course syllabus, all assignments completed for the particular class, and the proper completed form from either IPO or the Registrar's Office.
Students must complete five additional courses in CTSJ.
Second-Stage Writing Requirement
Students majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice satisfy the Second-Stage Writing Requirement by completing the Junior Seminar (CTSJ 390).
In their senior year, students majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice are required to complete a comprehensive project concerning a topic of the student's own particular interest. Students will complete their comps during CTSJ 490: Senior Seminar in the fall semester of their senior year. Each student is directed to consult with at least one CTSJ professor in addition to the professor teaching the senior seminar. The final version of the comprehensive project is due on the last day of the fall semester. A typical project culminates in a 20- to 25-page paper. The department is open to critical projects of comparable length that employ other media from students formally trained in those media. All CTSJ faculty review the comps in January and provide ratings to students. There are three grades: "Pass with Distinction," "Pass," and "No Pass." A comprehensive project earns the grade "Pass with Distinction" if all department faculty agree that it is of the quality publishable in the CTSJ Journal or another journal in the fields embraced by Critical Theory & Social Justice. In the case of "Pass," students may work on their project to improve it to the level of "Pass with Distinction." In the case of "No Pass," the student works with faculty and the senior comps professor to complete the project to departmental satisfaction.
Students majoring in CTSJ must be nominated during their senior year by a CTSJ faculty member to be considered for Honors. Nominations will be reviewed by the CTSJ department faculty, who will consider the nominee’s excellence as a CTSJ major by examining a number of factors such as: major GPA, quality of the comprehensive project, performance in the practicum, and engagement in justice theory and activism.
The minor in Critical Theory & Social Justice requires five courses (20 units) taught in the CTSJ Department: one course at the 100-level, one course at the 200-level, one course at the 300-level, and two additional electives.
Transfer Credit Policies
The CTSJ Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for details.