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BS Program Requirements and Course Descriptions

CourseworkRequirements, Options, and Descriptions

—for students enrolling after March 1, 2018:

Note:  Students must take the following 15 semester units of general education courses from other colleges, in the following three areas (Because of the affordability, community colleges are strongly recommended–feel free to consult with a WISR faculty advisor regarding options):

6 semester units in Natural Sciences (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Sciences, Geology, General Science, etc.)

6 semester units in Humanities and/or Arts (e.g., Literature, Art, Music, Drama, Philosophy, Religion, History, etc.)

3 semester units in Quantitative Methods (e.g., Algebra, Statistics, Math Analysis, etc.)

Degree Requirements:

Of the necessary 120 semester units, 40 Units of General Education, and 40 Units in the Major are required. Required courses are indicated with an *. Titles of courses in the major are underlined and those that fulfill general education requirements are italicized!

BS 101: Learning the WISR Way—Introduction to Transformative Learning for Professional and Community Leadership (4 semester units)*

BS 311:  Studies in Action-Research (5 semester units)*

BS 341: Contemporary, Issues in Community Leadership and Social Justice (5 semester units)*

BS 351: History and Ideas of Society and Justice, and History of Community Leadership (5 semester units)[note: may count as either general education or major field course]

BS 371: Writing, Storytelling, and Inquiry (5 semester units)

BS 402:  Building Bridges to Your Future (5 semester units)

BS 411:  Advanced Studies in Action-Research (5 semester units)*

BS 442:  Issues and Strategies of Multiculturalism (5 semester units)*

BS 445: Theories and Strategies of  Community Leadership and Social Justice (5 semester units)*

BS 446: Environmental Justice and Sustainability  (5 semester units) [note: may count as either general education or major field course]

BS 471: Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (5 semester units) [note: may count as either general education or major field course]

BS 480: Student-designed, Faculty-approved and guided, elective option (5 semester units)

BS 490:  Senior Thesis (6 semester units)*.

BS 491:  Supervised Community Practicum/Internship (1 – 35 semester units, no more than 15 may count toward the major field requirement)

BS 496:  Review and Assessment of Knowledge in One’s Field of Specialization (5 semester units)*


Course Descriptions

BS 101: Learning the WISR Way—Introduction to Transformative Learning for Professional and Community Leadership (4 semester units)*
This is an introductory course, required of WISR Bachelor’s students, except for those who have been previously enrolled at WISR. This course is carefully and thoroughly designed to enable students to progress more effectively toward the successful completion of the degree program at WISR, so that they can get the most from their WISR education:

  • in pursuing their learning passions and career interests,
  • in pursuing the core, learning goals emphasized at WISR,
  • in fulfilling the learning objectives for their WISR degree program, and
  • in building bridges for themselves to the next significant things they wish to do in their lives.

In this course, Bachelor’s students will also engage in critical analysis of how WISR’s mission and learning methods apply to their field of major interest. Students will also become familiar with WISR’s curriculum methods and requirements, collaborative opportunities, and institutional policies and practices. In addition, students will meet with some members of the WISR learning community and find out how to take advantage of the academic resources that are available—including online library resources and databases that are free and/or paid by WISR, as well as free and low cost online resources accessible to the student.

BS 311: Studies in Action-Research (5 semester units)*

 This course involves an introduction to the study of action-research methods, including specific techniques and the overall logic and perspectives used. It includes the study of qualitative and community-based participatory research methods that can be pursued by experts and lay people, alike.  The goal of this course is to introduce students to methods of inquiry–how to gather and critically evaluate information, and formulate analyses and conclusions, as well as learning to ask questions to guide inquiry, and learning to  communicate one’s insights and findings to others. This course will examine parallels between the criteria for rigorous research in the natural sciences, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, in action-research used in professional practice and leadership in areas related to human services, education, community improvement and social change. This should be one of the first three courses that the student studies during their degree program, because it provides a methodological foundation for studies throughout the degree program.

BS 341: Contemporary Issues in Community Leadership and Social Justice (5 semester units)*

This course addresses and studies questions regarding contemporary social issues from two, broad perspectives.  First, to what extent do the views of these issues consider “social justice”? Related to this, to what extent do different views, as well as different ways of identifying and/or framing issues, aligned (implicitly or explicitly) with different ideas of “social justice”? Are some views based on ideals based on values not conceptualized as “social justice”? What are the resulting societal consequences of the varying views on these issues–e.g., conflicts, social policies, and group actions? Second, what roles do people in community leadership assume in addressing these issues? What are the strengths and limitations of different approaches to community leadership? The following are examples of the types of issues to be considered, and students also will be asked to identify issues they consider important to reflect on and discuss:  a) workplace discrimination; b) issues pertaining to the ideal of the meritocracy; c) the role of education in a democracy; d) oligarchic threats to democracy; e) economic injustice; f) racism, diversity, inclusiveness and multiculturalism; g) the consequences and challenges of globalization; h) sustainability, climate change, and the role of politics and the economy; i) mass incarceration; j) human dignity and social abuse; k) a critical assessment of the society’s impact on self and family; and others to be identified.

BS 351: History Issues and Ideas Regarding Social Justice (5 semester units)

First, this course provides the study of historical perspectives on contemporary issues regarding social justice. Secondly, more broadly, the course includes a) the study of critical perspectives on American history, b) a consideration of social philosophy and ideology, and c) the study of people and leaders who have worked for social justice and change. This course will draw on the writings of Howard Zinn, among other sources. This course provides an introduction to some contemporary issues and ideas about social justice, including issues of economic justice, rights for and inclusion of marginalized groups, and ideas about opportunity in a meritocracy, among others. Students explore some of the variety of issues, ideas and current discussions and debates about social justice. This exploration is relevant to students who eventually aim to assume positions of community leadership, jobs in community agencies, as well as for those aiming to do continuing studies and preparation for the helping professions or for grassroots activism. The course will expose the student to some historical perspectives on issues and ideas of social justice, as well  [may count either for general education, or major field, requirements]

BS 371: Writing, Storytelling and Inquiry  (5 semester units)

Writing is taught across the curriculum at WISR—in each course and project that the student pursues. This course provides students with an opportunity to focus intensely on developing their skill and comfort in writing. There are several readings that will support this process. However, these readings are not primarily oriented to the rules of grammar and the techniques of producing a written product. Those rules and techniques will be discussed from time to time, but more emphasis will be on addressing the fears and inhibitions that impede one’s practice of writing. Emphasis will also be given to writing in one’s own voice, and to develop a level of comfort that will encourage the student to experiment with different styles and approaches to writing—ranging from technical to creative to narrative storytelling, among others. Some emphasis will be given to the value of storytelling–both as a method of inquiry and as a method of communication. Consideration will also be given to one’s audience(s) and how to clearly communicate with your audience(s) in an engaging way that will capture their interest. This course also involves the study of the role of writing in inquiry, and the use of collaborative methods in learning and inquiry.This course is concerned with methods of collaboration—between individuals, and among a number of individuals in a group, organization or community. What are the qualities that go into collaborative work that is creative, productive and involves the active participation of all? What is the value of collaboration—what are its advantages and potential, as compared to isolated work of individuals?  What are different types of collaboration, for example, intentional collaboration where two or more people consciously embark on a project together, or as another example, where collaboration happens informally, and perhaps accidentally or even without explicit intentions on the part of all involved? The course provides students with opportunities to learn about writing, inquiry and collaboration, through interviewing those who have had successful experiences interweaving writing, inquiry and collaboration.

BS 402:  Building Bridges to Your Future (5 semester units)

This course focuses on one of the main learning objectives of this degree program–to help students in successfully building bridges to the significant things they next want to do in their lives. In this course, students will study how to network with professionals and community groups, to create new programs and even new agencies, to carve out distinctive and well-recognized specializations and consulting practices, and to seek to obtain professional positions that carry significant and meaningful responsibilities.

  • Students will study conventional definitions of the professions, and they will consider the strengths and limitations of these definitions in the context of their commitments, values and aspirations.
  • Students will study current, and projected future, societal dynamics, and will develop a their own personal, and critically and imaginatively informed perspective, on the challenges and opportunities posed by these dynamics.
  • Each student will develop a plan that lays out at least two options for themselves, regarding next steps, challenges and opportunities, and long-term goals for building bridges to their future, as well as plans for how to get more information and next steps for types of projects to pursue in their coursework at WISR—to aid the exploration and pursuit of this plan.

BS 411:  Studies in Action-Research (5 semester units)*

The course builds on Introduction to Action-Research (BS 111). This course will cover similar content, but in much greater depth, and with the goal of enabling the student developing the capability of independently designing and conducting his or her action-research projects, either on their own or with a lead role in collaborating with others. Students will learn how to use action-research methods to enable them to collaborate with, and contribute to the efforts of, educators, other professionals, change agents and community leaders. It involves further study of methods of action-research, including methods of qualitative research and participatory research. This course will explore a variety of ways in which research can be combined with action—for example, in reflecting on the effectiveness of one’s professional practices and community improvement efforts, including how to do program evaluations and community needs assessments, as well as the use of research in formulating new programs and policies. The course will involve an in-depth and critical analysis of  key ideas in the logic of research design, including the concepts of validity and reliability.  This course will cover advanced study of methods of data gathering and analysis from participant observation, interviewing, story telling.

BS 442:  Issues and Strategies of Multiculturalism (5 semester units)*

This course involves the study of: 1)  issues and practices pertaining to racism, bigotry and prejudice, as well as by contrast, multiculturalism, as manifested in everyday behaviors in today’s society as well as in systemic dynamics and patterns; 2) the history US ethnic groups in our multicultural society; 3) “bigger picture” perspectives on social change as related to racism, feminism, diversity, and multiculturalism; and 4) past, current, and proposed efforts to create a more just, equal and multicultural society.  This course involves also the study of societal and institutional arrangements and systemic patterns that promote or impede multiculturalism, including meritocracy, oligarchy, imperialism, colonialism, and democracy.  Finally, the course engages students in active reflection on developing solutions to problems and alternatives to existing practices and institutionalized patterns.

BS 445: Theories and Strategies of  Community Leadership and Social Justice (5 semester units)*

This course addresses such leadership issues and methods as: a) participatory and inquiring leadership—theory and practice;  b) creativity and innovation; c) the role of feminism; d) psychological/emotional transformation and awareness, cognitive framing, and leadership for social change; e) the role of communication and collaboration in leadership and social change.  This course also includes the study of f) models/examples/stories of leadership, and g) strategies of community involvement and community organizing. This course also studies theories and strategies of social change challenges posed by: a)  the current trend in our society toward an oligarchy and increased inequality; b) how people’s personal troubles are intertwined with larger societal issues and dynamics; c) internalizing the consciousness of the oppressor and other difficult psychological dynamics; d) globalization; e) mass incarceration in a democratic society; f) by technology (as well as the opportunities created;  and g) racism and oppression. Furthermore, more broadly, the course engages students in a critical analysis of broader perspectives:  a) theoretical analyses and calls to action by social critics; b) analyses about socialism, capitalism and social justice; c) local strategies and alternative economics; d) the professions and social change;  and e) the larger challenges to work for sustainability and the preservation of the planet.

BS 446: Environmental Justice and Sustainability  (5 semester units)*

This course is an introduction to current critical environmental issues (both local and global), and explore several of the themes essential for citizens today that can be integrated into community and professional and personal contexts.  Can we call ourselves an educated citizenry if we fail to address the challenges of planetary survival? Because the current model of “global economic growth” holds little regard for environmental sustainability and social justice, preparing people for the choices they face as citizens must be strongly linked to making the Earth a better place for all.   This course provides an understanding of the interdependence of people and ecosystems around the globe. We will look at how environmental issues negatively affect indigenous people and people of color disproportionately. In this course we will be documentary videos that clearly present an issue or dilemma to inspire deep reflection. These will include a potpourri of current and ongoing issues, not always covered by mainstream media.  Participants will also receive a series of readings and suggested book titles to choose from.

BS 471: Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (5 semester units). 

Introduction to some the dynamics of dignity—and its violation through individual and systemic forms of humiliation—is crucial in today’s highly interconnected world. Growing awareness of these dynamics brings to the forefront the realization that past social, political, and economic practices, once accepted and considered helpful, may now be perceived as deeply humiliating. This course will explore how today’s rapidly changing social, political, and environmental conditions require us to dramatically alter how we participate in relationships. It proposes that escalating social instability, political unrest, violent conflict, economic injustice, and climate change can be the impetus to design innovative, sustainable, and mutually dignifying solutions to these problems. In particular, this course will examine how cultivating systemic dignity—at home and around the globe—creates space for mutually beneficial arrangements of relationships to emerge, relationships that provide for the full participation, growth, and development of all people while we seek sustainable solutions to global crises.

BS 480: Student-designed, Faculty-approved Independent Study (5 semester units)

Subject to the approval of a WISR faculty member, and using the guidelines for academic engagement per credit hour adopted for other WISR courses, the student may design a course that fits into one of the following categories:

  • the student may adapt, with faculty assistance and approval, one personalized WISR MS course—that draws on the content and methods of a WISR MS in Psychology (MFT) program course, modified to have objectives and assignments appropriate for students in this BS program in Community Leadership and Justice,
  • may design with other students and/or faculty, and/or community colleagues, a course, on a topic relevant to this degree program, but not currently offered, subject to faculty approval,
  • design an independent study project that address BS program degree requirements, and that is outside the realm of other WISR courses in this program.

BS 490:  Senior Thesis (6 semester units)*

 The Senior Thesis is an in depth study of a topic of strong interest to the student, and one that generally helps the student build bridges for him/herself to the next important things she or he wishes to do with her/his life—as a community and professional leader. The student makes use of what they have learned at WISR about action-research methods to do a serious and substantial inquiry, and an inquiry that is based on action and/or that has action implications of some significance to the student and/or others. In most cases, the Senior Thesis provides students with the opportunity to build on, to critically reflect on, and to synthesize, many of the thing they have previously learned.

BS 491:  Supervised Community Practicum/Internship (1 – 35 semester units)

This course gives students the opportunity to gain direct experience in a professional and/or community setting, to develop their leadership skills and/or to otherwise address some of the learning objectives of this degree program.  For example, students might work or volunteer in a community agency, a professional organization, a school, a small business, a public agency or some other, appropriate setting. As part of their internship, the student will also study, critically reflect on, and write about their professional and/or community involvement experiences. The internship must be under the supervision of a WISR faculty member, with regular discussion and critical analysis of the internship experience. Students may receive as much as one semester unit of credit for each 45 hours of internship experience, so long as those experiences are evaluated by the supervising faculty member as contributing to substantive learning and not mere routine performance of tasks not relevant to the degree program objectives. [no more than 15 semester units of internship may be applied to the 40 semester units required in one’s major field]

BS 496:  Review and Assessment of Knowledge in One’s Field of Specialization (5 semester units)*

This course gives students the opportunity to do extensive, in depth study of (a) topic(s) that is (are) of great interest to them, and that relate(s) to this interdisciplinary major of Community Leadership and Justice. Students will review the literature in their field of specialization, and survey and study existing practices in the field. These in-depth studies will include, library and online research, as well as interviews and observations in the community and other practice settings. The student may also write analytically about insights from their previous experiences and studies related to the topic.



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