The College of Arts and Letters shares this list of courses that students can take to learn more about the complex history of race, civil rights, African-American history and culture, U.S. politics and policing, as well as about ways to advocate for change. Education alone is not enough to change the world, but it is the vital foundation upon which we can build an informed and active citizenry who can embody and enact the ideals that lead to social justice. Education is a privilege. We can and should use that privilege to transform and challenge ourselves and the world we live in – to embrace the difficult work ahead – both in demanding change and being willing to “be the change.” 

The African American poet Maya Angelou said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” As educators, we understand that we must always work to do better. These courses and programs are a good start. We hope that you'll come learn with us.

Centers and Institutes

African, African American, and Diaspora (AAAD) Studies Center

"The African, African American, and Diaspora (AAAD) Studies Center provides interdisciplinary knowledges, programming and initiatives related to Black peoples, histories, cultures, languages, economics, philosophies, ideas and socio-political structures."

Furious Flower Poetry Center 

The nation's first academic center for Black poetry, Furious Flower was established on the James Madison University campus to serve creative writers, literary and cultural scholars, and poetry lovers everywhere.” 

Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue 

In designing and guiding conversations that help people think together productively, we strive to create conversations that engage, connect, and sustain communities.” 

Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Terrorism and Peace 

“CISTP is academia engaged with the wider world in order to make a significant impact on the problem of terrorism and related challenges to sustainable peace around the globe. CISTP brings diverse parties into conversation with one another to rethink complex problems stemming from a wide variety of challenges, including the threat of terrorism, identity conflicts, refugees, and human and animal trafficking.” 


African, African American and Diaspora Studies

“The minor in African, African American, and Diaspora (AAAD) Studies broadens students' world perspectives by enhancing their acquaintance with and understanding of the peoples, cultures, and institutions of Africa and the African Diaspora.”

American Studies

“At the heart of the typical American Studies program is the goal of reaching some understanding of American culture as a whole. This can be done most effectively—and most enjoyably—by looking at that culture from diverse points of view.” 

Asian Studies

“The minor offers students a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on the cultures, history, political institutions, economy and geography of Asia.” 

Criminal Justice 

“The cross disciplinary minor in criminal justice is designed for students who are preparing for careers in law enforcement, corrections, judicial administration or other areas related to the study or management of crime, either directly upon graduation or after further graduate training.” 

Cultural Communication 

The minor in cultural communication is designed to provide students with principles and theories of communication processes that help explain dynamics of intercultural interactions in personal and professional contexts.”  

Global Religions and Global Issues 

“This minor is for students who want to explore the role religion plays in contemporary global events: from religious terrorism to nonviolence, from the suppression of women to the advocacy of civil rights. In this minor, students will study major global religions and their impact on real-world social and political issues.”  

Humanitarian Affairs 

The interdisciplinary Humanitarian Affairs minor provides students with a global perspective on major issues facing the human community today. Students will investigate the impacts of natural disasters, disease, poverty, conflict, human rights violations, and governmental policies on human communities around the world.” 

“Over half a billion people live in Latin America where a diverse mix of cultures has created a dynamic group of countries. JMU's interdisciplinary Minor in Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies (LAXC) helps students to acquire a deeper understanding of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Latino Community Engagement

“The Latino Community Engagement minor invites native and non-native Spanish-speaking students to engage with the local and regional Latinx community through a curriculum that requires community engagement and emphasizes current events as they affect the Spanish speaking population.” 

The program in political communication is designed for those students wishing to supplement their major programs with an emphasis on communication skills, knowledge and abilities specifically relevant to participation in political environments.” 

Political Science 

Public Policy and Administration 

The minor in public policy and administration seeks to give students a foundation in the nature and practice of public policy and public administration. Students get exposure to the application of policy and administration by doing an internship capstone course.” 

Urban and Regional Studies 

The minor in urban and regional studies prepares students for careers or graduate training in government.”

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

“WGSS is an interdisciplinary program that examines the research on gender, women, and sexuality in society, culture, and history. It emphasizes the fundamental intersection of gender and sexuality with other vital categories of human identity and experience, including race, ethnicity, (dis)ability and class.” 

World Literature

The undergraduate minor in World Literature gives students the opportunity to broaden their understanding of and experiences in different cultures of the world by examining the literatures of these cultures. By exploring various literary traditions, students will better understand how literature reflects culture and deepen their appreciation for the diversity of global cultures.” 

Communication Studies
  • SCOM 248: Intercultural Communication
  • SCOM 313: Intergroup Dialogue
  • SCOM 347: Communication, Diversity and Popular Culture
  • SCOM 349: Ethnographic Approaches to Communication Studies
  • SCOM 352: Communication and Social Movements
  • SCOM 353: American Political Culture and Communication 
  • SCOM 448: Communication, Culture and Identity
  • SCOM 471: Culture and Health Communication 
  • ENG 221: Literature, Culture, and Ideas [LatinX Story Telling] 
  • ENG 222: Genre [African American Graphical Novels, Ideology & Global Cinemas] 
  • ENG 239: Studies in World Literature [Literatures of Global English, Studies in African Oral Literature] 
  • ENG : Survey of American Literature I 
  • ENG : Survey of American Literature II 
  • ENG 260: Survey of African American Literature
  • ENG 302: SisterSpeak
  • ENG 332: Genre [African Women in/of the Media] 
  • ENG 335: Children’s Literature [African American Children’s Literature] 
  • ENG 359: Studies in African American Literature
  • ENG 360: Introduction to Ethnic-American Literature
  • ENG 361: African American Fiction
  • ENG 362: African American Poetry
  • ENG 363: Native American Literature
  • ENG 364: Introduction to Asian American Literature
  • ENG 370: Queer Literature 
  • ENG 374: Contemporary Global Anglophone Literature
  • ENG 379: Introduction to African Literature 
  • ENG 378: Studies in South Asian Literatures
  • ENG 379: Literature and Empire
  • ENG 385: Special Topics in Film Study 
  • ENG 405: Advanced Studies in Anglophone Literature
  • ENG 408: Advanced Studies in African American Literature
  • ENG 415: Advanced Studies in Textuality and History of the Book
  • ENG 423: Advanced Studies in Gender & Sexuality [Gender, Sexuality, and Ubuntu in African Literature] 
  • ENG 430: Advanced Studies in Comparative Literature
  • ENG 433: Advanced Studies in Arabic Literature [North African Novels] 
Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • ARAB 308: Contemporary Islamic Civilization
  • ARAB 386: Arabic Fables and Short Stories  
  • ARAB 405: The Arabic Novel (North Africa Novels) 
  • ARAB 446: Special Topics In Arabic Literature 
  • FR 308: Contemporary French Civilization
  • FR 446: Topics: Francophone Literature 
  • FR 466: Contemporary French Cinemas 
  • ITAL 308: Contemporary Italian Civilization 
  • ITAL 423: A Study of Italian Prose Fiction
  • ITAL 425: Modern Italian Literature
  • ITAL 446: Topics [Contemporary Italian Women Writers]
  • ITAL 465: Italian Cinema
  • SPAN 308: Latin-America Civilization
  • SPAN 385: Latin-America Drama and Short Stories
  • SPAN 395: Latin-America Poetry of the 20th Century
  • SPAN 401: Hispanic/Latinx Cinema
  • SPAN 415: The Spanish-American Novel 
  • SPAN 434: Advanced Studies in Latin-America Literature 
  • SPAN 446: Topics: Special Topics in Latin-America Literature
  • SPAN 465: Spanish Cinema and Literature
  • SPAN 476: Culture and Medicine in Latin-America
  • AAAD 200: Introduction to Africa, African American, and Diaspora Studies 
  • HIST 150: Critical Issues in Recent Global History
  • HIST 225: US History 
  • HIST 239: Selected Topics in History (topics vary by semester) 
  • HIST 303: Early America 
  • HIST 307: Transatlantic Slave Trade 
  • HIST 319: Women at Work in US History 
  • HIST 320: Women in US History 
  • HIST 339: Topics in American History (topics vary by semester) 
  • HIST 350: Virginia History 
  • HIST 355: African American History to 1865 


  • HIST 356: African American History Since 1865 
  • HIST 362: Introduction to US Religious History 
  • HIST 413: US Constitutional History 
  • HIST 425: Civil War and Reconstruction 
  • HIST 432: US History, 1929-1961 
  • HIST 433: US History, 1960-1980 
  • HIST 436: Afro-Latin America 
  • HIST 439: Recent History of Economic Inequality 
  • HIST 445: Cultural History of Latin America 
  • HIST 469: History of International Development in the 20th Century 
  • HIST 470: Modern Africa
  • WGSS 200: Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Justice Studies
  • JUST 200: Introduction to Justice Studies 
  • JUST 210: Crime and Criminal Justice
  • JUST 212: Theories of Crime and Criminal Justice 
  • JUST 221: Social Justice Theories
  • JUST 223: Social Justice Interventions and Polices 
  • JUST 225: Justice and American Society
  • JUST235: Justice in the Global Community
  • JUST 237: Dilemmas in Global Justice 
  • JUST 301: Topics Course (Civil Rights, Juvenile Justice, Policing Protest) 
  • JUST 307: Justice and Crime
  • JUST 309: State Crime 
  • JUST 324: Death Penalty
  • JUST 328: Race, Class and Justice 
  • JUST 330: Corrections
  • JUST 331: Human Rights in Theory and Practice
  • JUST 334: Media and Justice
  • JUST 339: Mapping Justice 
  • JUST 343: Justice and Society 
  • JUST 345: Restorative Justice 
  • JUST 352: Global Migrations 
  • JUST 355: Solutions to Global Poverty 
  • JUST 356: Refugees and Humanitarian Response 
  • JUST 357: Environmental Justice
  • JUST 365: Justice in Film, Literature, and Art 
  • JUST 385: Disability and Justice 
  • JUST 400: Senior Seminar
  • CRJU 215: Introduction to Criminal Justice 
  • CRJU 225: Ethics in Criminal Justice 
  • CRJU 335: Law Enforcement 
  • HUMN 201: Introduction to Humanitarian Affairs 
Media Arts and Design
  • SMAD 471: Media Ethics 
  • SMAD 472: Media History 
  • SMAD 498: Senior Seminar: Gender, Race and Culture in Digital Media 
Philosophy & Religion
  • PHIL 390: Special Topics in Philosophy
  • PHIL 470: Topics in Contemporary Continental Philosophy 
  • REL 210. Religion in America 
  • REL 300: Special Topics in Religion
  • REL 324. Latin American Christianity 
  • REL 330: Religions of Africa and the African Diaspora 
  • REL 336: African-American Religion 
  • REL 371. Religion and Disability
  • REL 383. The Global Refugee Crisis and Religion 
  • REL 490: Religion and Society
Political Science
  • POSC 225: U.S. Government
  • POSC 300: Politics and Film
  • POSC 325: Constitutional Law 
  • POSC 326: Civil Rights  
  • POSC 330: American Political Thought
  • POSC 331: Human Rights in Theory and Practice
  • POSC 333: American Political Thought II: Civil War to the Present 
  • POSC 334: Political Thought of James Madison
  • POSC 341: Social Movements in the U.S. and Abroad
  • POSC 351: Civic Engagement
  • POSC 362: Political Behavior
  • POSC 364: Political Parties in America
  • POSC 365: American Political Campaigning
  • POSC 367: U.S. Immigration Politics and Policy
  • POSC 368: Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Public Policy
  • POSC 369: Elections and Voting Behavior
  • POSC 382: The Role of Religion in American Politics
  • POSC 383: Women and Politics in Comparative Perspective
  • POSC 384: Minority Group Politics 
  • POSC 385: The U.S. Congress
  • POSC 386: The U.S. Judiciary
  • POSC 387: The Appellate Process and Practice
  • POSC 393: Human Security 
  • POSC 440: Post-Conflict Societies
  • POSC 472: Media and Politics
  • PPA 200: Introduction to Public Policy 
  • PPA 265: Public Administration 
  • PPA 461/PUAD 561: Education and Social Policy
  • PPA 462/PUAD 562: Social Welfare and Local Government Policy
Sociology and Anthropology
  • SOCI 110:Social Issues in a Global Context
  • SOCI 336: Race and Ethnicity
  • SOCI/ANTH 388: Prisons, Punishment and the State
Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
  • WRTC 301: Language, Law and Ethics 
  • WRTC 318: Intercultural Professional Communication 
  • WRTC 342: Writing Place
  • WRTC 426: Prison Writing

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