UWS Looks to Add New ‘Critical Civic Engagement’ Major

Major would focus on identifying and solving community issues

SUPERIOR, Wis. – A year and a half after suspending 25 academic programs, UW-Superior may add a new major.

The university recently got a grant from the National Endowment for Humanities to develop a new academic major focusing on community advocacy.

“After the program cuts they were saying they were open to innovative ideas so this was one of the ideas that was put forward,” explained Political Science Professor, Haji Dokahchi.

‘Critical Civic Engagement’ is the working title for the proposed program.

“They would learn the skills of analysis, the skills of data collection and the skills of incorporating all of these different perspectives and examining the issue and identifying solutions to the issue,” explained Lynn Goerdt, an Associate Professor of Social Work.

It would teach students to identify community issues and how to take action to change those problems.

“The last thing you want is a community in which students and people stay away from the political process,” said Dokhanchi. “We live in a democratic society and we work by the principle that input is essential for the quality of our communities.”

The interdisciplinary major would be taught by instructors from different departments who are eager to put their expertise to work.

“We have some resident experts who aren’t as employed as they used to be,” said Jayson Iwen, an Associate Professor of Writing. “They don’t have the programs that were there for them in the past.”

Instructors believe the new program would serve the Twin Ports area by educating students who are outside the system about how to make their community better.

“I think people who are trained in being really observant of these issues and not assuming that these things are the way that things always are will find more potential solutions and ways to improve life,” said Iwen.

But the major has a long way to go before it becomes a reality.

“Is this a marketable degree? Do our employers need this skill set?” asked Goerdt. “So this whole summer that’s what we’re going to be working on.”

It will likely be years before students are accepted into the Critical Civic Engagement program. If it happens, it would be the only major of its kind in the region.

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