Rollins Launches New Graduate Certificate in Racial Reconciliation & Community Restoration

March 01, 2022

By Elsa Wenzel

This innovative certificate program is built to empower those seeking to make a difference in the community and addressing racial inequality.

A unique new graduate certificate at Rollins’ Hamilton Holt School aims to equip students with the skills to tackle social injustice head-on and effect change in local civic life.

The Graduate Certificate in Racial Reconciliation and Community Restoration addresses how social inequities pose special challenges for public servants charged with keeping their communities safe and thriving. These professionals include health officials, teachers, social workers, and public administrators.

The four-course program, which launches in fall 2022, encourages difficult conversations to foster mutual understanding among diverse community members while offering hands-on community engagement activities that translate ideas into action.

“I’m very excited about this new program because it aligns perfectly with Rollins’ mission to educate global citizens,” says religion professor Todd French, who developed the program alongside philosophy professors Eric Smaw and Tom Cook, critical media and cultural studies professors Lisa Tillmann and Steven Schoen, and graduate counseling professor Kathryn Norsworthy. “We think this program is a strong first step toward educating community leaders, law enforcement officials, teachers, and front-line workers about the historic moment we are living in and how we can be agents for change.”

Delivered by expert professors in Rollins’ signature personalized learning environment, the new program is grounded in the studies of ethics, philosophy, religion, and counseling as well as critical media and cultural studies. Discussions will explore social disparities in the community and how to address them, with an emphasis on ethical reasoning and intercultural understanding. Students are expected to identify and recognize their ethical values in a variety of settings, including on and off campus, as they assess the contexts around social problems.

The certification program consists of four graduate-level courses. Two required classes include Advocacy for Social Change, which invites students to develop campaigns to advocate for issues like racial injustice and violence against women, and Foundations of Racial and Social Justice, which explores social movements, liberation theories, and institutional structures of inequality. Students choose two electives in topics ranging from incarceration and inequality to multicultural and social justice counseling.

“This program is a very important educational opportunity,” says Smaw. “Anyone working in emergency responses or in civil service, or nonprofit workers, will benefit from a program like this. It’s not targeted at any one group. I hope we get a good mix of students already at Rollins and members of the community who are interested in doing this work.”

Rollins College students participating in outdoor class.

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