Otis Social Justice Award recipient Nontombi Naomi Tutu celebrates inauguration of Peace and Social Justice minor

On Monday Sept. 16, faculty and students gathered in Hindle auditorium to honor the exemplary trajectory of Nontombi Naomi Tutu, a renowned activist who has dedicated her life to addressing human rights issues. Tutu is daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a famous activist and opponent of the apartheid in South Africa.

During the event, Tutu was presented with Wheaton College’s Otis Social Justice Award for being a catalyst for social change. She later delivered a lecture entitled Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground, stressing the importance of seeing human beings for what they are and not what they are assumed to represent. The lecture was especially momentous for the Wheaton community, as it marked the official celebration of the new Peace and Social Justice minor, which was recently incorporated in to the Wheaton curriculum.

Professor of Women’s Studies Kim Miller organized the lecture with the support of Dean of Students Lee Williams and Marguerite Copeland ’14, an African American Diaspora Studies major. The driving force behind the establishment of the new minor was Miller and Professor of Sociology Karen McCormack.

“Professor Miller and I decided to become coordinators of the minor because we both teach classes that examine social justice issues and we wanted to put together a pathway for students interested in social justice,” McCormack said.

They proposed the idea of the Peace and Social Justice minor to the Provost’s Office in the spring of 2012 and spent the following year exploring how other colleges and university had organized similar programs. A year later, they formally proposed the minor.

“We worked for a whole year talking to faculty from other colleges and universities who teach courses that fit within the minor,” McCormack continued. “They were very supportive.”

According to Miller and McCormack, the main goal of the Peace and Social Justice minor is to provide students with the opportunity to explore theories and practices of social justice.

Students will be able to grasp a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of individual action and the importance of coalition building by taking courses in different departments that specifically put an emphasis on topics such as racial equality, human rights, and gender equality. Furthermore, the minor will encourage students to engage in active learning by exploring opportunities through internships, volunteering, or studying abroad.

When asked about the value of the Peace and Social Justice minor, Professor McCormack claims the minor will offer a rich and vast curriculum which will empower students to be agents for social change.

“The new minor will help students become effective advocates for creating a better world,” McCormack said. “We hope that many students take advantage of it.”

In addition to the Otis Social Justice lecture, which kicked-off the inauguration of the new minor, there will be a related speaker series open to all interested students.