Gavilan College adds social justice degree

Students attending Gavilan College have a new course of study that can help pave the way into the California State University system with an Associate in Arts in Social Justice Studies.

The Transfer degree “is designed to prepare students for a seamless transfer into the CSU system to complete a bachelor’s degree in Social Justice Studies and related majors,” according to Gavilan staff.

Career pathways include social work, education, government services, human rights, immigration, child advocacy, environmental justice, criminal justice, disability rights and health care.
Sociology instructor Leah Halper was the driving force in creating the program. She noted that in recent years “many students were paying attention to national and international politics, asking for ways they could do more to participate in building a positive future.”

According to the program description, “Social Justice Studies explores the important terrain between ideals of justice and everyday local, national and global realities of injustice.”

To complete the major, students will take required courses (including three of the following: Sociology of Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Identity; Introduction to Women’s Studies; Intercultural Communication; and Introduction to Sociology: Social Problems) and choose among a variety of related courses such as Mexican American Cultural History, Women’s Lives in United States History, Introduction to Conflict Resolution, and Global Social Change.

Students in this program must complete 60 semester units that are eligible for transfer to California State University, including general education requirements and the courses required for the major, according to Gavilan staff.

“Learning about social justice can help students see themselves in society,” said Angela Castillo, a sociology instructor.

Upon successful completion of the Social Justice Studies program, students are expected to be able to recognize and analyze the gap between local, national and global realities, and the ideals of democracy and justice.

In doing so, students will apply history and theory to understand past and present movements for social change. They will also be expected to experiment with a variety of social justice methods in their own communities, evaluating the impacts not only upon the community but upon themselves. The major is designed to help students envision and assess national and global social justice approaches to contemporary challenges, according to Gavilan staff.

The Social Justice joins 22 other options at Gavilan College, including mathematics, physics, psychology, business, administration of justice and computer science.
For more information, call (408) 848-4701 or visit