Georgetown University has recently approved a new "Pathways to Social Justice" requirement for students, aimed at providing a more comprehensive understanding of the school's role in racism, the history of slavery, and contemporary struggles for justice.
Starting next semester, undergraduates will be required to take a one-credit seminar titled "Race Power and Justice at Georgetown" as well as two other courses that fulfill the "pathways" requirement, such as "Business Arabic" and "Environmental Justice."
According to Campus Reform, the newly introduced seminar intends to teach students about Georgetown's history of enslavement of African people descent and how it intersects with national and global experiences of slavery and emancipation, settler colonialism, imperialism, and contemporary struggles for justice.
The course also aims to develop a common vocabulary for all Georgetown students to engage in conversations about racial equity and justice, ideally during their first or second year at the university.
The new requirement will replace the existing "Engaging Diversity" core educational requirement that has been in place since 2016. Biology professor Heidi Elmendorf, who sits on the subcommittee, explained that the changes were made to balance historical and modern-day perspectives, tackling issues of structural inequities of power and privilege.
Subcommittee members also noted that changes were made to remove confusion about what counts as "domestic" and "global" courses to meet the requirement, streamlining the process and limiting the number of courses under the umbrella to satisfy the core requirement.
Professors will have to demonstrate how their class meets at least three of five learning goals, such as inclusive scholarship, intersectional approaches to identity, historical legacies of inequality and their contemporary impacts, imagining justice, and national, regional, and global comparisons.
Amanda Yen, the subcommittee student co-chair, told The Hoya that the new requirement will interrogate "structures of power, privilege, and oppression" rather than simply recognize the "plurality of human experiences."
Georgetown University's main campus executive faculty approved the changes, which will take effect with the Class of 2027 this fall.
In October, Georgetown created a $400,000 annual "reconciliation fund" as a form of reparations for community-based projects to positively impact descendants of those enslaved on the Jesuit plantation in Maryland.