Students Explore Passion in USD Changemaking 101, Minor

It was a late May morning on the University of San Diego campus when Sociology Associate Professor, Lisa Nunn, PhD, asked a pertinent question of her students: “Can you reveal in a word or two, the social issue you’re passionately interested in?”

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One by one, students in Serra Hall 204 who were sitting in desk chairs and in a circle, made a declaration.

“Homelessness,” the first one said. “Mental Health,” said another. “Gun violence. Teen Pregnancy. Foster Children. Eating Disorders. Orphans. LGBTQ+. Sustainability. Public Schools. Child Homelessness.” The answers came quickly and in a manner in which everyone knew that students weren’t just saying it to say it. They meant it and they’d thought long and hard about the issue and had spent much of the semester exploring it further.

Changemaking 101 Class

That’s because this class, Introduction to Changemaking 101 with Nunn and with Professor and Changemaker Hub Director Mike Williams teaching it, had students spending much of the day's meeting in groups of four to share their thoughts, ideas and to answer specific questions from classmates to better explain how they’d address their issue from multiple angles.

“My idea is …, The issue this addresses is …, The communities affected are …, The current ways this is addressed are …, I’m proposing …, I’m a good person to do this work because … and my challenges will be …”

By speaking up about the social justice issue that interests students, it begins the conversation and can lead to follow-up after it is spoken and is revealed to others. Addressing an issue aloud can foster a sense of personal ownership and is a step forward in a student’s desire to make a difference.

In this Changemaking 101 course, students of all ages and years — there were graduating seniors in this class as well as freshmen and transfer students — the passion was evident. Students spoke enthusiastically on ways they could take action in search of a solution from a local perspective. Despite the range of students, especially those who would soon be graduating, it was still clear that even having just one class to focus on Changemaking is vitally important as they transition to post-graduation life.

Changemaking Minor

For those who are just getting started at USD, the Changemaker 101 class is part of USD’s Changemaking Minor program. It began Fall 2017 and is designed for students with ingenuity, thoughtful determination and regard for community engagement.

In addition to 101, there’s also a class on personal leadership, self-inquiry and discovery (LEAD 160), a choice of one of three classes — Social Justice (SOC 210D), Law and Social Justice (SOC 270) or Christian Changemakers (THRS 231) — then 9-10 upper division units, including Global Social Entrepreneurship (MGMT 312), one elective which can be determined by consulting with the program director and the Changemaking Capstone (CHNG 495), which allows students to put their changemaking abilities into practice.

The 101 class already has two sections for Fall 2018. One class offering is part of a Collaborate LLC class with Dr. Williams. According to Nunn, who is the faculty integration coordinator for the Collaborate LLC, the class is already maxed out with 20 students. The other course offered will be taught by Clinical Professor of Management Dr. Moriah Meyskens. Nunn said there are very limited spaces left for this class in the fall, too.

For USD, the creation of the minor is the latest addition to a wealth of opportunities students have to engage their Changemaker inquiry. To learn more about the minor, about other opportunities through the Changemaker Hub or participation in changemaking events or student committees, email Dr. Williams at or call (619) 260-4012.

— Ryan T. Blystone


USD News Center
(619) 260-4681