EVCC To offer new pathway

The Diversity, Equity, and social justice pathway aims to Fill void in curriculum

Everett Community College has announced a new graduation pathway for students. The Diversity, Equity and Social Justice (DESJ) academic track. This university transfer degree focuses on the study of race, class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. DESJ will dive into how these social classifications are linked to power, privilege, allocation of resources and opportunity. And what prompted this program to be introduced, EvCC’s very own students.

Over the years, various student groups have requested EvCC offer more courses rooted in equity and social justice themes. Some requests focused on wanting courses that better reflected who students are, while others were more rooted in student interest in topics that are clearly gaining local and national attention. “When students were asking about these classes it was more because it was something we were already passionate about and interested in as opposed to it being something they saw as a benefit for their career” states Christina Sampson and EvCC Anthropology instructor.

A group of faculty in the humanities, social sciences, and education have been meeting for several years to plan out this new track. The process has involved identifying existing courses with an “equity lens,” emphasis on issues of fairness and justice throughout the course material and assessments. DESJ advisors regularly checked in with Eugene McAvoy, the Dean of Social Sciences and Communication. McAvoy has been a big supporter of the new program. Eventually, the advisors presented their ideas to all the faculty in the Social Sciences and Communication Division, who voted to support the proposal of a new program. Plans were then taken to an organization in the college called the Instructional Council, which oversees changes and additions to the college’s curriculum. The Instructional Council approved the DESJ last winter.

All staff working on this track come to the work of DESJ through a combination of professional and personal interests. “This is something that motivates each of us.” Shelli Jordan-Zirkle, an EvCC History instructure said. “Many of us come from academic institutions where similar or related programs existed, so we know that a DESJ focus can be supported at four-year institutions.” Jordan-Zirkle continued.

Students want access to such courses and want to transfer into a DESJ related major. The DESJ academic track aligns with the strategic plan and mission of EvCC to become a more equitable institution. Faculty members from a range of racial and ethnical background have been involved in developing the DESJ track. Likewise, teachers from similar backgrounds will teach its core classes. “We expect BIPOC (Black, Indegiouns and People of Color) faculty members will continue to play key instructional and leadership roles in sustaining and shaping the DESJ pathway as it grows and evolves.” say’s Phebe Shen, an English instructor at EvCC.

Taking courses on the DESJ track has benefits for students as they advance in their education and careers. EvCC students are thinking about their next steps, whether it’s transferring to a four-year school or heading into the workplace. Universities are looking to enroll students who understand and commitment to equity and social justice, which means that studying DESJ issues at Everett can help students develop strong transfer applications. Employers of all kinds want to hire people who can help them improve equity in their workforce and in the services they provide. Graduates with a DESJ background will stand out for hiring in the eyes of employers with this being the case.

There are many people who feel strongly about what they want to see in the world, what their values and beliefs are, and what kind of changes they want to make happen. Sometimes it’s hard for people to see what they do as individuals. Students can have a career and life that attributes to those values in a meaningful way and still be able to support themselves. “To help students pursue academic work that combines their values and professional goals so that ultimately they’re able to pursue careers that allow them to be financially independent while making the world better.” Said Steven Tobias, an EvCC English instructor.