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University of San Diego: Reaching Innovative Changemakers

This article originally appeared on University of San Diego

The following post was contributed by Patricia Márquez, Dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.

As I am sure you know, just a couple of weeks ago, Texas faced a massive blackout for days in the midst of a bitter freeze. The stories of hardship and suffering were devastating. Who could imagine the citizens of Texas would be forced to heat snow to flush their toilets? This was a failure at a societal level. At the same time, there were incredible acts of community support for people in distress. Private Individuals took the initiative to organize bringing drinkable water to those housebound. Others created phone banks to check on the welfare of seniors living alone. The acts of generosity and kindness are awe-inspiring. But the ordeal left us, even those of us who were not impacted, feeling traumatized, abandoned and understandably confused. How does a breakdown like this happen in the wealthiest and most resourceful country on the planet?

These types of social failures increase distrust of existing institutions. And this distrust has potential consequences that are hard to foresee. It is clear this is not a situation, particularly coming amidst a pandemic that is almost a year old, resolved by simply restoring electricity to Texas. What happened in Texas is an example of how badly we need new institutions and leadership prepared to prevent crises as well as provide more effective responses when they happen. Sadly, Texas is not a one-off aberration. The future will require new paradigms, new thinking and new social architecture in the U.S. and around the world. With a planet that will soon reach nine billion people, we must proactively build thriving communities with new thinking, organizations and social systems. At the Kroc School, we design educational programs to prepare the innovative Changemakers needed today and the years to come. 

Thousands of applicants to the University of San Diego are responding to this question:

USD essay question

At its heart, peace and justice education is focused on exploring new academic areas that prepare the professionals of change – the Changemakers – that our times demand. If we are going to solve social injustice, systemic racism, growing inequality, political polarization, ethnic conflict, natural and man-made disasters, and community trauma (just to list a few), our society requires people with new ways of thinking, knowledge, and skillsets. It requires people with capabilities involving problem-solving, community organizing, resilience building, and trauma healing. 

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