New Communication, Advocacy and Social Justice minor


Photo courtesy of @oucomjrnpr

The Department of Communication, Journalism and Public Relations announced a new minor in Communication, Advocacy and Social Justice. The minor will be available in fall of 2022.

The Department of Communication, Journalism and Public Relations at Oakland University is offering a new minor in Communication, Advocacy and Social Justice. The 20 credit minor will be available starting fall of 2022. 

As per @oucomjrnpr’s announcement post on Instagram on Monday, Jan. 3: “This minor allows students to investigate the communicative processes that shape social and environmental inequities while also learning persuasive strategies to struggle against and transform them.”

The proposed minor class schedule includes requirements such as Persuasion, Persuasion and Social Change and Multicultural Communication, as well as a list of classes for students to select three additional courses. The classes will gear students toward developing their persuasion skills, understanding systems that sustain inequality and identifying what social justice looks like. 

While the course list has yet to be finalized, the minor has been in the process of being developed for a few years. 

“It was a group effort, as all great things are!” says Dr. Valerie Palmer-Mehta, professor and communication internship director at OU.Rob Sidelinger proposed the idea of the minor to me. I subsequently worked with Tom Discenna and Rebecca Mercado Jones to develop it. Kellie Hay also contributed.” 

Professor and Communication Program Director Dr. Robert Sidelinger proposed the idea for the minor after representatives from admissions said that advocacy and social justice are key search terms that students seek when looking at schools. 

“This was probably a year and a half, two years ago, and if we think about what was happening two years ago in the media and in the United States, that was around the time the Black Lives Matter movement was really at its height, along with other things going on,” Dr. Sidelinger says. “I think that’s why students were looking at social justice when they were looking at colleges.”

The minor will suit students with a range of majors and post-graduation goals, from those interested in getting involved in political or non-profit organizations to grassroots movements to social entrepreneurship. Dr. Sidelinger included that the major may also be attractive to students interested in social work, journalism and public relations.

“Well, it would be for anyone that’s interested in, of course, social justice and advocacy – those students who are interested in working with at-risk groups, people with disabilities, people of color, folks on the spectrum, the elderly,” Dr. Sidelinger says. “There’s a variety of what you might consider at-risk groups, and so how do people advocate for them on their behalf, as well as how can those individuals advocate for themselves?” 

Dr. Sidelinger also stresses the importance of minors in general. Minors allow students to explore a topic of interest without the in-depth demands of a major, which provide a different perspective outside of a major and are also beneficial to building a resume.

“The Communication Program seeks to provide relevant, timely and innovative offerings for OU students so that they can become effective, strategic and ethical communicators in a diverse, global society,” Dr. Palmer-Mehta says. “We are very excited about offering this minor to OU students!”