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Being the Change: Caring for Self and Community as a Socially Responsible Leader

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 29, 2020 - July 10, 20206/29 - 7/10M-F 9A-3PCancelledJudelysse Gomez

Course Description

At some point you have likely heard, and perhaps even been inspired by the motto, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” At first glance, such a directive seems straightforward and simple enough but upon further consideration, you may begin to wonder how do you actually become this “change”? How do you work towards making things better for those around you, while at the same time ensuring that you are taking care of yourself?

In this course, students from all backgrounds and types of experiences will explore the importance of psychological and community well-being and study the ways in which activists, change makers, and community leaders have effectively sustained their leadership efforts through self and collective care. You will understand how political, social, and historical contexts drive and hinder social change efforts within our communities and ourselves. You will also learn about different youth-led social-justice movements, identifying their tactics including responsible social change skills. Using others’ lives as inspiration, you will be motivated to identify ways to engage in social justice work that is personally fulfilling and sustainable.

Fundamental questions you will consider include:

• Who am I? What personal and societal factors affect my worldview and my experiences?
• How do I find community and how do I cultivate affirming relationships with people who share my values?
• What is my definition of social justice? What change would I like to see in the world?
• What is liberation psychology and how can this framework help me better care for others and myself as I further understand the interconnectedness between my struggles and others’?

As a student in this interdisciplinary course, you will have the unique opportunity to learn about the interplay between liberation psychology and social justice, including how to avoid perfectionism, compassion fatigue, and the savior trap. Incorporating a wide array of interactive activities, we will practice different modalities of self- and collective care such as mindfulness, somatic/movement work, and community-based healing practices. This course will culminate with the development of a self-care and community care plan, which will connect to your Action Plan. Your Action Plan will identify a way you can influence positive change in your communities from a social justice-focused perspective. Ultimately, because of this course, you will understand the importance of emotional and community well-being in order to engage in sustainable action toward self and collective liberation. You will be able to apply the skills learned in this course when you return home and throughout your future.

Course materials, discussions and activities will lay the foundation for future studies in a wide range of interdisciplinary fields including pre-med, legal studies, public health, psychology, sociology, political science, contemplative studies/mindfulness. Students with a wide array of career interests will find the course material relevant and applicable to a wide range of careers, but particularly those that serve the common good such as educators, non-profit administrators, social workers, therapists, medical professionals. More importantly, techniques and modalities in this course will be useful tools for students throughout high school and in the future.

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 may 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.

Additional programmatic information may be found here.

Prerequisites: There are no pre-requisites but 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. Those who are interested in developing or cultivating their own self-care practice will find this course particularly helpful.

Instructor Biography

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.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPY0956
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

Leadership Institute

Two-week non-credit residential program focused on socially responsible leadership and creating positive change. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

Program cancelled.

Visit Program Page Information Sessions
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