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Advocacy and Social Change Major More Relevant Than Ever

Advocacy and Social Change Major More Relevant Than Ever
By: Tim McManus, SOC Web Reporter
 

Miranda Lindvall puts her interest in advocacy and social change to use as the education coordinator at the Rockford Art Museum.

Lindvall coordinates art classes for children, lectures for adults, or helps identify art resources for teachers at the museum, which has more than 1,900 works of modern and contemporary American.

She credits her career choice to her 2015 degree in Advocacy and Social Change from Loyola’s School of Communication.

“Advocacy is needed in any part of the non-profit sector, and I chose to pursue arts advocacy as my specific field,” Lindvall said. “Throughout all of my major classes, I was given the space to do research and hands-on work with the topics that interested me, and not be stuck doing the same thing as everyone else. I saw this with a lot of my classmates too – everyone tailored their experience to fit their own wants and needs.” Lindvall said. 

Traditionally, social advocacy and communication are not formally taught in conjunction at most universities.  But, the ever-increasing relationship between activism and media is undeniable, and the School of Communication has developed a concentration in Advocacy and Social Change under the Communication Studies major in order to fill that need.

“The combination of advocacy and communication is just a natural fit. It's happening outside of academia right now. And the students exposed to it are interested in not only actually doing it, but in analyzing it first before implementation,” said Assistant Professor George Villanueva. 

Some students in the program have found it to be an ideal combination. Senior Ellison Snider, who was originally a sociology major, says she feels her classes in the SOC are providing her with the tools necessary for reaching more people and creating a larger impact. 

“The Advocacy and Social Change major equips students with theoretical knowledge, as well as effective communicative practices, to achieve a more equitable society. We learn how to better communicate from a place of empathy. This major has greatly empowered me. Social justice has always been an integral part of my life, but it wasn't until participating in this program that I began to understand my role as a leader in fostering change efforts,” Snider said.

Regardless of how each student molds the concentration, they are collectively learning to innovatively promote social change and education in a society that is almost exclusively relying upon digital media for communication where messages can be disseminated and shared instantaneously.

“Unfortunately, communication is the missing link in many social advocacy efforts. The ability to reframe issues and develop strategic communication campaigns is indispensable to every advocacy organization,” Snider said. “Advocacy and Social Change is a very uncommon undergraduate major, but I am extraordinarily proud when I get to share with others what I study at Loyola.”