Climate change, social inequalities, inclusive diversity, restorative justice—today’s urgent issues form the foundation of the School of Liberal Arts Young Public Scholars Summer Program. Developed for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school, Young Public Scholars offers a dedicated space for students to learn more about today’s pressing issues, their historical roots, and the most current frameworks for researching them to equip students with a new toolset for creating transformative change.
In Summer 2020, the Young Public Scholars Program offered two courses: “Punishment and Redemption from the Industrial Prison Complex” and “Environmental Justice in Anthropocene,” taught by Betsy Weiss and Edward “Ned” Randolph, respectively, both visiting professors in the School of Liberal Arts. Students from Chicago to Palo Alto and New Orleans gathered online for two-week sessions on these special topics.
Discussing the important ties of environment and our everyday actions, Randolph met with students three times a week for the duration of his course. In between meetings, students watched documentaries, immersed themselves in pivotal readings, and crafted presentations. “These courses are a lot of work in a very short amount of time,” explained Randolph. “It was clear that the students were introspective, open-minded, and self-motivated. Each was eager to deepen their understanding of the many layers of environmental change and put their knowledge to practice.” This dedication echoed through the critical conversations in Weiss’ class, as well. Together with Weiss and guest lecturers, students discussed the broad social impacts of a justice system rooted in inequalities. Weiss’ students met online with a local formerly incarcerated activist and businesswoman and studied the structures for incarceration through film, video, and reportage.
In both courses, students shared their acquired knowledge on public platforms, leaving the program with new additions to their digital portfolio. While Randolph’s students created a website for the students’ op-eds, participants in both Randolph and Weiss’ courses contributed their work to ViaNolaVie.org, an online culture magazine founded by New Orleans journalists and artists that reaches more than 3,000 weekly readers. This partnership will continue for the 2021 program.
Applications for the School of Liberal Arts Young Public Scholars Summer Program for 2021 open on October 30. For more information, visit https://summer.tulane.edu/programs/young-public-scholars.