Finding Your Voice in Social Justice


This non-residential learning community will help you connect your classes with social issues, meet fellow student-activists and work with BGSU faculty and community leaders. Activities in this community will empower you to turn values into action and to transform your communities for the better.  

Through course work in BGSU's School of Cultural and Critical Studies, you will fulfill a general education requirement while you explore the intersections of identities, including race, ethnicity, and gender, as well as others that meet your particular social justice interests. Learn more about classes that were intentionally designed for this learning community below.

Social Justice Learning Community
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Important Information

  • Fee | $0
  • Non-residential Community
  • NEW in 2018!

Contact Us


Members of learning communities that are 'non-residential', receive the great benefits of belonging to a Learning Community but the community currently doesn't have a block of rooms inside a residence hall available to students to live in. A non-residential Learning Community may become a residential Learning Community in the future.

About The Community

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  • No fee to apply but space is limited
  • Students of color and first-generation student are especially encouraged to apply

Are you interested in social justice and community activism? Are you passionate about challenging racism, patriarchy, classism, and xenophobia? If you answered yes, this is the community for you!

In the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Leaning Community, you will learn about activating social change from university and community leaders and organizers. We will introduce you to campus resources and help you foster connections with other students, faculty, BGSU leaders and community activists

Through these efforts, we hope to create bridges between home and campus communities; build connections amongst students; and connect students to resources available in BGSU. We believe better connected students will not only be more successful, but they will also be more effective university citizens. 

How to Apply

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After you have submitted your request to join a community, you will receive an email from the community director approving your request. If you have any questions about your application or the community, please contact

Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to join the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community?

There is NO COST to joining the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community!

I want to join another BGSU learning community too.  Can I join the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community?

Yes, but we do ask that if you join our LC you commit to engaging in all required activities.

Who can apply to be part of the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community?

You are eligible to apply to the Finding Your Voice Learning Community if you are a new incoming full-time student beginning in Fall 2019.  If you have not registered for Fall courses yet, you will be enrolled in the following two courses upon acceptance into the learning community:

  • One of various small interactive courses (BGSU 1910) designed specifically for this learing community.
  • Our community’s section of ETHN 1010 Introduction to Ethnic Studies.

Students of color and first-generation students are especially encouraged to apply.

Do I have to live in a particular residence hall to join the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community?

No. The Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community is not a residential learning community. Students living in all residence halls may apply to the learning community.

How do I apply to be a part of the Finding Your Voice in Social Justice Learning Community?

Apply HereFill out this short form today!

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Through course work in BGSU's School of Cultural and Critical Studies, you will fulfill a general education requirement while you explore the intersections of identities, including race, ethnicity, and gender, as well as others that meet your particular social justice interests.

ETHN 1010

Students in the community will be enrolled in a section of Introduction to Ethnic Studies (ETHN 1010) which meets the general education (BGP) requirement for Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

This gateway course to the field of Ethnic Studies introduces students to interdisciplinary analyses of race and ethnicity in the U.S. It explores the social construction and ideologies of race in colonial conquest, slavery, and immigration, and the intersections of race with other hierarchies such as class, gender, and sexuality. The course particularly focuses on the theorizing and lived experiences of people of color (including African Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans) in the U.S., exploring the ways in which marginalized racial/ethnic groups historically have negotiated their disempowerment, as well as addressing contemporary discourses on racial and ethnic issues.

This course takes a critical race theory/critical ethnic studies approach to the study of race and ethnicity, relying upon an understanding of race and ethnicity as socially constructed; race and ethnicity are class- and gender-dependent social institutions with historic origins and real-world effects, with meanings determined and mediated by geographic location and temporality.

BGSU 1910

In addition, you will choose one of various small interactive courses (BGSU 1910) designed specifically for this learning community. BGSU 1910 courses for Fall 2019 are not yet finalized, but below is information about Fall 2018 topics:

Raise a Fist, Take a Knee:
Protest and the Black Athlete

Instructor: Thomas Edge

With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement over the last five years, the American public has paid renewed attention to the role of African American athletes in political debates. From football players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem, to LeBron James’s public defense of the right of athletes to speak to the issues of the day, there is a revival of the activist-athlete in a manner that modern sportswriters thought impossible or unlikely only fifteen years ago. Over the last thirty-plus years, social critics feared that the Black professional athlete had “too much to lose” by taking controversial stands, and that the economics of modern sports stifled political voices of both professional and amateur athletes alike. Recently, however, from the WNBA to the NFL, Black athletes have been at the forefront of discussions of the role of race in contemporary American society.
This course will not only examine the current manifestations of political consciousness and action among African American athletes. It will also connect these current issues to the longer history of politics and protest in the Black athletic experience. Particular emphasis will be placed upon post-World War II manifestations of this activism, including but not limited to the impact of the integration of professional sports; the rise of radical Black athletes in the 1960s, culminating in the 1968 Summer Olympics and Muhammad Ali’s antiwar activism; the various challenges raised by college athletes to their position in higher education; and the recent explosion of Black athletic protest at all levels of sports. Opportunities for campus and community engagement will be pursued through the We Are One Team here at BGSU, local activists dealing with issues raised by contemporary Black athletes, and/or outreach to the Toledo Public Schools. The seminar will have a strong emphasis on student discussion of the tactics used by Black athletes to highlight their political causes over the years and the impact of such activism on public discussions of relevant issues. Short response papers to help promote in-class discussion will be encouraged, culminating in a personal reflection upon the political responsibilities of African American athletes.


Position: Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Cultural and Critical Studies; Lecturer - Ethnic Studies  Email:
Address: 238 Shatzel Hall 

Thomas Edge is a lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies, where he has taught since 2011. Dr. Edge earned his Ph.D. from the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2008. His teaching experiences include time at Trinity College (Connecticut), Elms College, and Northwestern University. Over the years, Dr. Edge has taught courses on African American history, the Civil Rights Movement, African American film, race and housing, Black leadership in the twentieth century, and Black higher education. At BGSU, he has previously taught 1910 courses on the #BlackLivesMatter movement and on the Black athlete in American history and culture. Dr. Edge has published works on the African American experience in the Journal of Black StudiesWest Virginia HistoryJournal of American Culture, and in the edited volumes The Black Experience in America (edited by Edward Ramsamy and Gayle Tate) and Barack Obama: Political Frontiers and Racial Agency (edited by Molefi Asante and Ama Mazama).

Straight Outta                                     [Your City]

Instructor: Jessica Birch

This course examines how the Rust Belt (aka the Industrial Midwest) is portrayed in mass media and national narratives. Although we will begin by learning about some of the cultural and labor history of the Rust Belt, the main focus is on more recent media representation of events and circumstances within the Rust Belt and among its inhabitants. Events and circumstances discussed will include Flint’s water crisis, the 2016 election, gentrification, hipsters, and segregation, addressing how “urban decay” is both classed and racialized in media representations.
The course will use a problem-posing pedagogical approach to help students hone their critical thinking abilities by learning to listen to (and hear) diverse viewpoints and perspectives; dialoguing to become better able to understand how their own social positions connect to larger structures and institutions; and using the knowledge and understanding gained to be more responsible citizens with insight into cultural rules and biases. Course content will primarily consist of short video clips from news shows, interviews, films, and television shows, along with news articles from mainstream news organizations. Students will also engage with and do research in social media, including YouTube videos, Twitter, and Instagram. There is no textbook for the class. Each unit in the course will begin with a handout on terminology, historical context, and major themes to familiarize students with discussing everyday topics in academically appropriate ways.


Position: Instructor - Ethnic Studies 
Address: 239 Shatzel Hall 

Jessica Birch is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and is an instructor in the Department of Ethnic Studies and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies: Theory and Cultural Studies, as well as a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, from Purdue University in 2014. Her teaching and research focus on black feminist theory, critical race theory, contemporary popular culture/cultural studies, critical pedagogy, and the intersections among these areas. She has published research on gender, sexuality, race, nationalism, and neoliberalism in contemporary popular culture.


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