Civil Discourse & Social Change

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Civil Discourse & Social Change


Reverend Lawson will be teaching a face-to-face course on non-violent social change and the Civil Rights Movement this Spring 2022 for the Communications Department, COMS 400C, Course # 12205, Tuesdays, 4:00-6:45PM (Pacific Time). 

Submissions for the 4th Annual CDSC Social Justice Student Research Conference is open! This year's conference will be hosted via Zoom. The theme is "Envisioning Just Communities."

 Abstract deadline: Monday, March 22, 2021

Student Conference: Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Keynote Speakers: Thi Bui and Ciara Lacy

We welcome submissions concerning scholarship, activism, and art that draw upon or envision just communities as well as any other aspect of social justice. Please click the flyer below for more information on how to apply. Abstract submissions are through the following Google Form:

CDSC stands in solidarity and grieves with our Black students, friends, colleagues, family and loved ones over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McCade and too many others. We are angry that we must state what should be obvious and clear: that Black Lives Matter. As members of a social justice initiative founded on principles of non-violence and social change, we decry the systems of oppression that upholds militarized white supremacy and normalize Black death. We recognize the interlinked fates of marginalized communities who have been made vulnerable to the multiple crises in health care, in employment, in housing, in environmental precarity, in colonialization, and in detention and deportation.  Thus, we call for an end to these forms of oppression and for solidarity in the ongoing struggle to remake a society based in radical love.

To fight against anti-Black violence CDSC is committed to education towards widespread social change and the dismantling of systemic oppression. In light of ongoing crises against Black lives we also call upon CSUN to commit to more funds to support Africana Studies and other Ethnic Studies departments who do the vital work of supporting CSUN’s students and faculty of color. Finally, we support the protestors and refuse the narratives that are emerging that seek to invalidate their fight for justice. Now more than ever we affirm our commitment to dismantling the logics of anti-Blackness that uphold our institutions, and to envisioning and building just communities and institutions.

 CDSC is thrilled to announce that we are the 2020-2021 recipient of a $100,000.00 grant from the CA Civil Liberties Public Education Program (funded by the California State Library)! 

The CA Civil Liberties program aims to increase public awareness about the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II but more broadly focuses on projects that examine the causes of civil rights violations and civil liberties injustices based on national origin, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. 

The topic of our funded project is: "World Remaking: Intergenerational Activism and Transformative Justice" and will explore 1) the contemporary intergenerational activism and art of Japanese Americans that uses the incarceration experience to mobilize across racial and ethnic lines and practice Third World solidarity; and 2) contemporary social justice and civil liberties issues in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities e.g. around detention and deportation, gentrification, and now hopefully vulnerability to the pandemic. Programming for next year will focus on storytelling, performance, and public dialogue between different generations of Asian Pacific Islander and other racialized communities that focus on political mobilization, collective healing, and transformative justice. 

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