Critical Theory and Social Justice

Overview

Critical Theory and Social Justice (CTSJ) is fundamentally interdisciplinary, drawing on ideas from across traditional academic disciplines. "Critical" refers to various bodies of theory and method: Marxism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, deconstruction, critical race studies, queer theory, feminist theory, postcolonial theory, and intersectionality that interrogate the essentialist assumptions that underlie social identities. "Social justice" refers to an extra-juridical concept of fairness that is focused on exposing and ending social inequalities. The aim of the CTSJ Department is to promote understanding of how categories such as "race," "sexual orientation," and "nationality" help people recognize and combat some injustices and hinder them from recognizing and combating others.

The department's course offerings are divided into three levels:

  • 100-level classes teach students how to think critically about a wide range of topics, including race, gender, sexuality, and nationality.
  • 200-level classes teach students how to participate in a seminar, including how to contribute to class discussion and how to research and write a scholarly paper.
  • 300-level classes teach students a major body of critical theory or a research methodology.

Major Requirements

The major in Critical Theory & Social Justice requires eleven courses (44 units). These eleven courses must include: one course at the 100 level, one course at the 200 level, two courses at the 300 level and two methods courses.  Additionally, all students are required to take the Junior Seminar, the Senior Seminar, and the Social Justice Practicum.

COURSEWORK

One course at the 100 level

4 units

One course at the 200 level

4 units

Two courses at the 300 level

8 units

Junior Seminar

CTSJ 390CTSJ Junior Seminar: Interventions

4 units

The Junior Seminar will be offered during the Spring Semester.  Students planning to travel abroad during their junior year should do so in the fall semester and may petition the department chair to have 1 study abroad class count as a CTSJ elective. All petitions must include the following: the course syllabus and all assignments completed for the particular class.

Senior Seminar

CTSJ 490Senior Seminar in Critical Theory - Social Justice

4 units

Two 4-unit methodologies courses

CTSJ 215/WRD 215Critical Discourse Analysis

4 units

CTSJ 232Introduction to Cultural Studies

4 units

CTSJ 285Foucault

4 units

CTSJ 310Qualitative Interview Methods

4 units

CTSJ 320Culture and Community

4 units

CTSJ 337Queer Los Angeles: Cruising the Archive

4 units

CTSJ 340Critical Ethnography

4 units

CTSJ 357Law and Empire

4 units

CTSJ 384Bataille

4 units

Additional Electives

Students must complete two additional CTSJ electives.

Social Justice Practicum

A minimum of four units. Credit for the social justice practicum may be earned through participation in a departmentally approved internship and enrollment in the practicum course.

SECOND STAGE WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice satisfy the second-stage writing requirement by completing the Junior Seminar (CTSJ 390) or the Social Justice Practicum.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

In their senior year, students majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice are required to complete a comprehensive project concerning a topic of the student's own particular interest. Students will complete their comps during CTSJ 490: Senior Seminar in the fall semester of their senior year. Each student is directed to consult with at least one CTSJ professor in addition to the professor teaching the senior seminar. The final version of the comprehensive project is due on the last day of the fall semester. A typical project culminates in a 20- to 25-page paper. The department is open to critical projects of comparable length that employ other media from students formally trained in those media. A comprehensive project earns the grade "Pass with Distinction" if the department faculty determine that it is of the quality publishable in the CTSJ Journal or another journal in the fields embraced by Critical Theory & Social Justice.

HONORS

Students majoring in CTSJ must be nominated during their senior year by a CTSJ faculty member to be considered for Honors. Nominations will be reviewed by the CTSJ department faculty, who will consider the nominee’s excellence as a CTSJ major by examining a number of factors such as: major GPA, quality of the comprehensive project, experiential learning, and engagement with community-based learning and research. Nominees must meet the minimum overall GPA of 3.25 set by the College for Honors. Students interested in being considered for Honors may apply during the first semester of their senior year to enroll in CTSJ 499: Honors Thesis, which is an independent study, by conferring with their academic advisor and the instructor of CTSJ 490: Senior Seminar. Permission to enroll in CTSJ 499 does not guarantee that the student will receive Honors; the student’s completed comprehensive project will be considered along with the additional criteria listed above in consideration for the designation of Honors.

Minor Requirements

The minor in Critical Theory & Social Justice requires five courses (20 units) taught in the CTSJ Department.

One course at the 100 level

4 units

One course at the 200 level

4 units

One course at the 300 level

4 units

Additional Electives:

Choose two approved courses from the CTSJ Department only.

Courses

Critical Theory and Social Justice Courses

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Heather Lukes, chair

Assistant Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., University of California, Berkeley; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Mary Christianakis

Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., M.Ed., University of California, Los Angeles; M.A., Loyola Marymount University; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Glenn A. Elmer Griffin

Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., Pacific Union College; Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary

Donna Maeda

Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., St. Olaf College; Ph.D., University of Southern California; J.D., University of California, Berkeley

On Special Appointment 

Janelle Franco

Part-Time Non-Tenure Track Instructor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., University of Washington; M.A., Columbia University

Marisol Leon

Part-Time Non-Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., Yale University; M.A., Loyola Marymount University; J.D., University of California, Berkeley

Viviana MacManus

Visiting Assistant Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

A.B., Occidental College; Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

Elizabeth Simmons

Part-Time Non-Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice

B.A., Bennington College; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley