Civil Discourse & Social Change

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Civil Discourse & Social Change


We are excited to invite all CSUN students (undergraduate or graduate) to apply to CD&SC's second annual all day symposium on "Social Justice and Student Activism." The theme reflects the powerful role that students play in transforming higher education, which was recently highlighted at CSUN, where students led a movement to repeal Executive Orders and challenge curriculum changes, changes that would have a dramatic impact on their education and future. Building on historical legacies as well as this recent student activist work, the 2019 CD&SC Student Research Conference invites all undergraduate and graduate students at CSUN to present research and creative work that addresses any aspect of social justice and social change. 

You do not need to have a completed paper or presentation to apply! By working closely with a faculty mentor we can help you turn your good idea into a powerful presentation.  Submit your personal information and an abstract (no longer than 200 words) here by 5 pm March 15, 2019.

Symposium will take place on May 7, 2019 and in addition to student research presentations we will have: 1. an opening plenary featuring student art; 2. music and performances and 3. a closing keynote by Dr. David Stovall, a scholar and activist for school reform. His talk is titled "Justice and the Inevitability of the Fight: Working, Building, and Planning in Struggle."  Stovall's address seeks to put the current social, political, and economic moment in the context of a series of planned distractions.  Instead of focusing on the volatility of antics of the current presidential administration, Stovall argues that distractions are operationalized to spark paranoia.  If we know this to be the case, history reminds us that any demand for justice will require a fight.  Instead of a hostile and violent fight, the efforts to build the world we need will require a serious, unfiltered commitment to struggle that must be thoughtful and organized.  

Last year's program:


CDSC is proud to support the struggle against the Executive Orders on the CSUN campus. We ask that you please watch the following student-made video for more information:

About CDSC

Civil Discourse and Social Change is a campus-wide initiative that combines education, community involvement and sustained activism on issues around social justice and social change. The initiative operates under the auspices of the Provost, offering dynamic programming designed to provide social justice education opportunities to students and faculty.

CDSC was co-founded by Dr. Marta López-Garza and Dr. Kathryn Sorrells in 2010 to address student concerns regarding access to education, their future aspirations, and broader issues of social justice. At the invitation of CDSC, Reverend James L. Lawson Jr., who is a prominent leader of the civil rights movement, serves as a visiting scholar  About CDSC continues

Reverend Lawson's Biography

Rev. Lawson lecturing arrested in NashvilleReverend James Lawson has been working with the CDSC initiative at CSUN since 2010.

James Lawson was born in Pennsylvania in 1928. His father and grandfather were Methodist ministers, and Lawson received his local preacher's license in 1947, the year he graduated from high school.

At his Methodist college in Ohio, he joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), America's oldest pacifist organization. Through FOR, he was first exposed to the nonviolent teachings of Gandhi and fellow black minister Howard Thurman.

After spending time in prison for refusing the Korean War draft, he obtained his B.A. in 1952, and spent the next three years as a campus minister and teacher at Hislop College in Nagpur, India. While in India, Lawson eagerly read of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the emerging nonviolent resistance movement back in the United States. Reverend Lawson's Biography continues