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Graceland University Approves New Academic Programs That Support Continued Diversity and Inclusion Efforts


Press Release

June 26, 2020

Graceland University Approves New Academic Programs That Support Continued Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

The Graceland University Board of Trustees approved a new major and two new minors over the weekend. These new programs strongly align with the university’s mission and values, and support Graceland’s continued effort to expand diversity and inclusion efforts.

Beginning Fall 2020, Graceland Lamoni-campus students may choose to major in social change, for which half the credits are attainable through Graceland’s essential education theme of equality and peace. Additionally, two new minors will be available to Lamoni-campus students beginning Fall 2020: 1) critical race and ethnic studies, 2) women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

Graceland University President Patricia H. Draves had this to say of the decision: “These programs are a fantastic and important addition to the already outstanding options for advanced study at Graceland University. Perhaps even more important is that the introduction of these programs comes at a time when we at Graceland are ourselves dedicated to change and ensuring our university community is part of a solution to a broader world challenge of inclusion and opportunity. We are committed to taking a hard look at the best ways to do that in our social programs, in our on-campus living and, as in the case of this decision, in our academic offerings. I am proud of the work our faculty and students put in to bringing these programs to Graceland, and I am excited to watch them grow and shape our institution further as we continue to learn how to ensure we live up to our mission and values through new realizations and changing times.”

These programs not only offer Graceland students new areas of study that are relevant and timely in a world where people are looking for change; they also support and enhance the culture Graceland seeks to create and provide for all students, and they complement Graceland’s extracurricular and leadership offerings, as well as its unique student government and residence life programs.

“I could not be more excited about these programs,” said Jill Rhea, Graceland Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The board provided a quick approval of all three programs in order to provide faculty and students time to incorporate the new programs into their Fall 2020 plans; and because these programs are exactly the type of academic offerings that we believe are important at Graceland to continue to demonstrate our mission in a changing world and through broader learning and greater understanding.”

The initiative to add the social change major was partially driven by a student, which both speaks to the current culture at Graceland and the growing interest in providing young people the tools to lead efforts toward change. Casey Main ’22 not only helped spearhead the process to create the major; she was also a key presenter as the idea was conveyed to the Graceland community.

Casey Main“I received an overwhelming amount of support from the professors and community members at Graceland; we all gave our full hearts and energy to this major because we knew how much it could impact future students at our institution. Now more than ever, we know that big structural change is needed in every community connected to Graceland students. The social change major will have an impact in all fields of study, from pre-med to computer science to education. I’m proud to have been a part of this major and movement, and I’m so excited to see how this impacts students in their careers.” – Casey Main ‘22


A New Major

Graceland’s values of learning, wholeness and community have always existed with an emphasis on students developing the ability to use them to make a difference; our Graceland community, much like our denominational sponsor, Community of Christ, is built around social change. The way we gather together, live together, work together is all built to provide students with tangible skills and tools to leave Graceland, go into communities and make a difference.

The new interdisciplinary social change major will give students an academic paradigm to cultivate and create transformative community beyond the walls of Graceland and was designed to empower changemakers to transform communities and institutions. It has two essential components: one that provides a depth of understanding of the systemic injustices that plague communities and institutions, and another that equips students with practical tools for change.

Graceland’s social change major will offer concentrations in four areas: racial justice, gender and LGBTQ+ justice, economic justice and transnational justice. Students may choose one or multiple concentrations but will also have the option to build their own concentration in consult with a faculty advisor. And while social change will be available as a singular major, because it was designed to leverage Graceland’s thematic approach to essential education, students will also be able to effectively pair it with other majors and still easily complete their degree in four years.

“We’re very excited to launch a major that embodies Graceland’s most courageous values,” said Graceland Associate Professor of Communication Raquel Moreira. “At this particular historical moment, it is important that we equip students with the knowledge and tools to work towards justice in their communities. I can’t wait to begin this journey with students both in and out of the classroom.”


Two New Minors

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies:
Generation Z, currently replacing millennials on college campuses, is not only the most racially and ethnically diverse peer generation in America’s history, but this generation has also expressed a deep interest in the social questions of racism, racial divides, and the promise of inclusion and diversity. Critical race and ethnic studies is a genuinely interdisciplinary field at its origins and in practice, as well as an internationally recognized academic field. At its core, this area of study is about people and about getting to know and working with people of different backgrounds and cultures. Graceland’s minor in critical race and ethnic studies will include 18 semester hours of courses that include Race and Ethnicity in the United States, Intercultural Communication and Critical Theory, as well as elective courses in the areas of culture, theory and history.

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
For all Graceland students, regardless of background, gender, orientation, etc., a women’s, gender and sexuality studies program offers the opportunity to learn more about suppressed histories crucial to the nation’s identity and to provide knowledge that will become all the more critical in an increasingly equitable job market that puts emphasis on interpersonal communication skills. Graceland’s minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies will include 18 semester hours of courses that include Gender and Society, Gender and Communication, and Critical Theory, as well as elective courses in the areas of theory and law, society and nature, and language and culture.

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