Have you wondered how to create the change you want to see in the world, while at the same time ensuring that you are taking care of yourself? Does perfectionism and burnout ever impact your ability to stay engaged in the issues you care about? Do you ever feel isolated in your efforts, or find that the organizations you hoped would be affirming are actually taking a toll on your well-being and mental health?
This course will help students from all backgrounds learn to engage in social justice work that is personally fulfilling and sustainable. Namely, students will explore these fundamental questions: What is my definition of social justice and activism? How do I “keep on keeping on” when the going gets tough? How do I find and cultivate a supportive and socially-just community?
Throughout this course, you will learn about different social-justice movements in order help you engage in the practice of mindful activism. Mindful activism and social justice work requires that we understand the historical context of social movements. By connecting to and understanding history, we are able to find historical and contemporary role models and become better equipped to engage in responsible and sustainable action. We will also learn about the interplay between psychology and activism, art and activism, music and activism, how to avoid perfectionism and the savior trap, and the importance of psychological and community well-being in sustainable social justice action. Finally, we will learn about and practice different modalities of self- and collective care such as mindfulness and community-based healing practices. Workshops and activities will be geared to helping you self-define/re-define what activism looks like, and help you learn how to engage in effective and long-term individual and collective action. The course will culminate with the development of a self-care and community care plan that will be tied to your Action Plan. This project will lay the foundation for you to influence change in your communities from a social justice-focused perspective.
Course materials, discussions and activities will lay the foundation for future studies in a wide range of interdisciplinary fields including: Public Health and Mental Health, Psychology, History, Anthropology, American Studies, Political Science, and Legal Studies. Students with a wide array of career interests will find the course material relevant and applicable to a wider range of careers, but particularly those serving the common good.
This course is part of the Leadership Institute, a two-week academic program that helps students cultivate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership. This unique program consists of three integrated elements: academic content, leadership development, and the Action Plan. Our students are thoughtful and compassionate youth who are interested in social issues and creating positive change. Enrollment in this program requires several hours of online engagement prior to campus arrival. This online participation can be completed at any time where internet access is available. Once on campus, participants can look forward to full days in a community of engaged and curious learners.
Prerequisites: Students who are respectful of different worldviews, open to growth, and interested in learning how to start and sustain social change efforts are particularly encouraged to participate.
Judelysse Gomez received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami, where she developed a passion for incorporating social justice in mental health treatment development and delivery. Dr. Gomez is currently an assistant professor of psychology at Connecticut College. Her work thus far has focused on examining how variables related to the socio-cultural context (e.g., acculturation, acculturative stress, discrimination, etc) impact the mental/behavioral health and treatment outcome of individuals of color. She has worked in collaboration with mentors and colleagues delivering culturally-competent cognitive behavioral treatment to Latinx adults, adolescents and their families. She has also worked with detained unaccompanied undocumented immigrant youth from a positive youth development perspective. Professor Gomez’s dissertation focused on examining the association among mindfulness, attention, avoidance and posttraumatic stress symptomatology among females with a sexual abuse history. Her post-doctoral work focused on understanding how alcohol misuse and dating violence influence depression and depression treatment outcome among dually diagnosed community-based adolescents. Currently, her community-based research focuses on reducing mental health disparities among Latinx individuals, and has co-developed a research project that will examine the relationship between direct and social media exposure to white nationalist race-based violence, police violence/harassment, and immigration enforcement and race-based traumatic stress among college students and community-based emerging adults of color. Along with her collaborators, she is particularly interested in understanding the potentially protective role of racial identity, community-based (collective) and personal (individual) self-care and activism for those exposed to race-based violence and harassment. Judelysse Gomez was born and raised in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC and is the daughter of immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Professor Gomez’s philosophy to her work centers on the understanding that individuals’ experiences are influenced by the contexts in which they are embedded. Her experiences, both personal and professional have informed her passion for social justice and empowerment, which cuts across her clinical and research work, mentoring, and teaching.