Graduates should be able to:
Understand the impact of student identity, cultural heritage, and institutional and societal systems (including power and privilege), on identity development, personal growth, individual perspectives, and students’ experiences
For the last 3 years, I have spent time recognizing both the historical and current institutional and societal systems that impact and influence the complex ecosystem of the university. I’ve had the opportunity to write several scholarly research essays on the literary society and the college experience; cultural capital and the internet; race and the internet as institution; and the intersectionality of college events.
The CSSA program is a program that promises to deliver on social justice, looking at things with multiple perspectives that are grounded in scholarship as well as practice. Throughout my time in the masters degree program, I’ve been able to attend a social justice retreat; worked with a communications and marketing team to develop an inclusive & university wide website focused on the student experience; and was also able to give back to the PROMISE program, a professional internship program that I owe my start in College Student Services Administration to.
As a graduate student intern for the PROMISE program, I led workshops, and worked with the leadership team to develop and deliver a professional development experience that was both relevant and inclusive. I also added to my Canvas course development experiences, working to integrate professional development and social justice curricula in a hybrid setting, developing online and in-person learning experiences. The PROMISE leadership team internship experience also provided me with the opportunity to develop mentoring skills (mentor / protégé) as a team leader.
I also produced this video below — which is a great summary of what PROMISE is:
Recognize various dimensions of identity and the intersectionality of those dimensions in the lives and learning experiences of students
The OSU Speak-Out occurred during my first term in graduate school and I was immediately immersed in what happened during the live stream and in the chatroom, especially since that was the medium I chose to engage with during the event.
Context: The OSU Speak-Out
An event known as the “Speak-Out” occurred in the fall of 2015 at Oregon State University (OSU), the event, designed by student leaders, was for students of color to speak out about injustice at OSU. I have decided to categorize the event as semi-private, as while the Speak-Out was open to the public and OSU community, members without an authentic interest in the issues of injustice would likely not have been allowed to physically disrupt the dialogue of the event, or jeopardize the safety of the OSU students, faculty, and staff. The event was live-streamed for those who could not attend in person, and a chat room was also created that let both OSU affiliated and anonymous users interact while watching the event. Just as the event started, the link to the chat room was anonymously posted on the website 4chan, and immediately the chat room was saturated with digital hate speech (i.e., internet trolling) from anonymous internet users.
As a technologist and aspiring new media scholar, I was concerned not only for the racism that was showering the live stream’s chat room — I was also concerned for those who had experienced now a second intrusion to their authentic collegiate spaces, as this college event promised a space for a conversation that would be heard, yet not necessarily by the entire internet. As I watched this digital side of a college event unfold, I was both a college student and a digital communications professional — which put me in a difficult place, and I ultimately decided to make this event the focus of my scholarly pursuits.
Analyze and apply concepts and theories of student and human development to enhance work with students
Student Development theories were in abundance during the first year of graduate school, leading ultimately to my essay on Fluid Borders and Campus Ecology, an exploration into the mixed reality of semi private college events (i.e. sometimes you can’t choose your audience). I explored the faith development theory (FDT) of Sharon Daloz Parks; King and Kitchener’s Reflective Judgment Model (RJM); the research of Urie Bronfenbrenner, as well as Karen D. Arnold, Elissa C. Lu, and Kelli J. Armstrong human developmental ecology (HDE); as well as Baxter Magolda’s Epistemological Reflective Model (ERM). Since writing that essay, I’ve picked up some sociological and technological coursework that added to my understanding of critical theory, intersectionality theories, and further explorations of identity, particularly in terms of identity formation in a mediated worlds and near environments that influence attitude formation.
Identify and articulate issues students face when transitioning into and out of institutions of higher education
Having a seemingly haphazard assortment of college experiences myself, I always enjoy interacting with students, learning about their goals, dreams, paths, starts, stops, and restarts. The CSSA program provided me with a solid foundation to explore, identify, and understand issues facing the students in higher education today.
Whether we look at 2015, when I started the CSSA program, with the speak-outs nationwide demanding justice for black lives — or in 2018, when I’m writing this blog post, where we see students of various ethnic backgrounds facing travel bans, deportations of family members, or fear of discontinued college funding access. There are, unfortunately, no shortage of issues for college students to navigate. I have learned that simply being able to find, sort, and adequately assess the information that we have access to is often a great starting point to finding balanced, supportive, yet still challenging, responses and techniques for delivering a respectful and compassionate response to these situations that students are facing.
Assess the impact of varied higher educational settings and institutional types on the student experience
When I entered the CSSA program, I felt I had learned quite a bit about the differences between community colleges, small private colleges, large public doctoral granting institutions, among others. This was primarily due to my own attendance of a few community colleges, and a late start to the university, where I found the organizational structure to be interesting. I believe we are in a constant state of flux — as I have written some of the content on this website, taken and / or edited some of photos, all on a device that was not out when I was in high school!
This leads me to believe that a learning environment must be nimble enough to pivot if needed, while still providing ample challenge and support, with learning outcomes that are trackable, actionable, and constantly reviewed and adjusted. College students are living in a very digital world, and our educational institutions have the complex task of both preserving, archiving, and learning from history — along with the task of staying current, anti-fragile and relevant.
There is great benefit to attending a large doctoral granting institution, a public research leader in the state, and one of only 2 colleges in the USA with 4 federal grants (Land, Sea, Space, Sun). I found myself able to learn about other types of learning institutions through the community at OSU, where you have CSSA Alumni in positions across the state, and country at universities large and small, private, religious, etc..
Apply varying approaches and relevant technology to communicating with different students and student populations
Being a photographer, a web designer, and “google analytics rockstar” keeps me connected to technology just by the nature of my function area: digital communication. Since this competency could arguably be the crux of the video production, photography, and website architecture projects that I’ve worked on since started the CSSA program, I’ll gladly mention that my creative communications work samples can be found on Behance, as well as at jamesathomasiv.com.