Catalyst Series for Social Justice
Sparking Action for Social Change
At the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW), we don’t just educate students. We also help to educate our community through programs such as the Catalyst Series for Social Justice. Founded in 2016, the Catalyst Series brings campus and community together for timely — and sometimes tough — discussions and workshops on a broad range of issues.
Whether the topic is white fragility, body positivity or art as activism, the goals are the same: to inform, prompt reflection, facilitate public dialogue and spark action.
Liza Saffo, MSW ’15, “White Fragility” Attendee
“It’s important that GSSW initiate these types of conversations so they become more mainstream and so that the community has a safe space to talk about injustices and marginalization that is taking place everywhere, all the time.”
Watch Past Events
The Catalyst Series considers social justice from many perspectives and offers something for everyone. Did you miss an event? Learn more about past events and watch some online.
White Americans live in a racially insular social environment that builds their expectations for racial comfort and lowers their stamina for enduring racial stress. That is the contention of author Robin DiAngelo, PhD, who spoke about what she calls “white fragility,” white racial identity and race relations.
Lose Hate Not Weight
Author and fat activist Virgie Tovar discussed diet culture and fat phobia with an eye to the intersections of race, gender and class.
Art and Activism
Art can inspire, educate and help spur the imagination and has always been part of social change movements. Artist–activist Favianna Rodriguez discussed her powerful and unapologetic artwork and how artists nationwide have organized around racial and migrant rights and shifting public sentiment. Attendees shared their own art through live performances and displays.
Truth to Power: Personal Storytelling for Social Justice
Participants learned to use personal storytelling as a tool for critical self-reflection, practiced applying key concepts of narrative to their own personal stories, and discussed how to use storytelling to advocate for social justice. The workshop culminated with participants sharing their own “truth to power” stories for a live audience.
Racist and Anti-Racist Humor
Latino cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and sociologist Raúl Pérez, PhD, led an enriching dialogue on the evolution of racist humor since the civil rights era and the pushback against such humor, which created an opening for anti-racist humor and non-white comics to enter the mainstream.
Rules for Radicals in the 21st Century
Graduate School of Social Work Dean Amanda Moore McBride led an interactive fireside chat with acclaimed community organizer Ernesto “Ernie” Cortes, co-chair of the Industrial Areas Foundation, who discussed community organizing and social change in the 21st century.
The Power of Place
Lydia Prado, PhD, shared a case study for community engagement with the Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being. She discussed how community conversations transformed a vacant lot into a national model in community mental health, exploring concepts of historical context, food scarcity, responsive community engagement, real-life social determinants of health, inclusivity and services across the lifespan.