Social Justice Collective




July 15 - August 3, 2018

Engage in the study of social justice at Sarah Lawrence College!

Designed to give high school students an immersive experience into Sarah Lawrence College's pedagogy, this program provides students theoretical, historical, and present-day perspectives on social and cultural issues involving class, gender, sexuality, and race. This interdisciplinary intensive will give students a chance to learn, discuss, and apply their knowledge through the creation of mixed-media art installation pieces. Throughout this process, students will be guided and mentored by members of Sarah Lawrence’s award-winning faculty and renowned alumni. Students will develop their academic skills in a rigorous intellectual environment by focusing on the social justice issues that matter most to them. Students will also explore how creative writing, visual art, performance, and social media impact social justice movements. This three-week program will culminate in an exhibition of each student’s work.

We welcome students entering the 10th, 11th, or 12th grades the following fall. We also welcome students graduating high school in 2018 who are taking a gap year between high school and college. Commuter students must be age 14 or older at the start of the program. Residential students must be age 15 or older at the start of the program.


Monday through Friday

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Breakfast (and time for conferences)
10 a.m. - Noon Classroom time
Noon - 1:30 p.m. Lunch (and time for conferences)
1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Supplemental Lectures or Project Time
2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Classroom time
4:30 - 7 p.m. Break, Dinner (and time for conferences)
7 - 11 p.m. Optional on-campus activities organized by housing staff
11 p.m. Curfew (midnight on the weekends)

Please note: The schedule will change depending on the activities scheduled for the day such as field trips, or additional time to work on projects.

Program Costs

Registration fee $50
Deposit $250
Remaining tuition $2588

$1950 (non-A/C)

$2390 (A/C)

Meal Plan

$987 (full)

$357 (lunch only)

Please note: students may need to purchase supplies to complete course assignments during the program. Please budget around $100.

2018 Courses

Students take all of the following courses:

“Activism in Playwriting” with Sifiso Mabena

In this course, we will be exploring different ways in which activism in playwriting can effect change in society. We’ll foray into examples such as South African protest theatre, the work of the Public Theatre, and artists like Anna Deveare and Augusto Boal who have used their work to bring social issues into public discussion. We will specifically be exploring and discussing the intersections of Theatre and Community Building. The class will be using newspapers and media clips as a starting point to write scenes for performance. Practically, the course will focus on equipping writers with tools to shape their impulses into socially effective and artistic theatrical experiences. This course will require the participants to read the work in loosely staged scenarios in order to fully allow the work to be ‘seen’ as a form of performance writing.

Sifiso MabenaSifiso Mabena is a theatre-maker, playwright, performer and educator from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She received a BA Honors in Drama from Rhodes University and is currently an MFA Theatre candidate at Sarah Lawrence College. She was one of eleven writers chosen for a Royal Court Theatre workshop in South Africa (2013); and her play, The Comeback about immigrant voices, won HIFADirect in 2011 and toured Zimbabwe following its successful debut at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Sifiso is a former high school teacher at the International School of South Africa where she coached a theatre group to make socially conscious play entries to the RAPS Schools Festival. Her work explores immigrant narratives, women’s narratives and the intersection of race and class. She recently performed in 100 years! Stay Tuned, a celebration of women's activism on the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New York. Sifiso is currently working on a solo show as part of her MFA Thesis at Sarah Lawrence.

“The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time. The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.”—Stella Adler

“Finding Our Voices: From Allies to Activists” with Olivia Worden

Over the course of three weeks, we will explore the ways in which social justice relates to our daily experiences as well as how to create change and take action. Students will be challenged to define and redefine their understandings of privilege, marginalization, equality, and justice through various readings, films, discussion, and interactive in-class exercises. Through the mediums of writing and performance, as well as mini-workshops on conflict resolution and dialogue facilitation, students will have an opportunity to explore what social justice means to them and how to claim and nurture the power of their own voices. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to create their own social justice platforms via social media campaigns or blogs. These platforms will be presented at the end of the three weeks in a celebration of the work accomplished.

Olivia WordenOlivia Worden holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught Creative Writing and Diversity/Inclusion Training at Roger Williams University, Sarah Lawrence College, Andrus, and the Westchester County Correctional Facility. She is currently a faculty member at Pace University and through the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in CutBank Literary Magazine, Post Road, Dark Phrases, The Sarah Lawrence Literary Review, and Point of You Productions. She lives in the Bronx.

“Intersectional Social Justice” with Rachel M. Simon

The theory of intersectionality describes ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, rape culture, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. In this three-week course, we will examine systems of oppression individually and as elements of our larger culture to explore their histories, vital activists, successes, and routes to dismantle oppression on both an individual and societal scale. Through interactive and collaborative group exercises, we will explore movements including: Intersectional Identities, Contemporary Feminist Activism (in the face of rape culture), Racial Justice (Black Lives Matter, race and the justice system, race and dating, race and education), Theatre of the Oppressed, LGBTQA Concerns (looking beyond marriage), Power & Control Wheel, Race Zone Training, Developing Your Voice, Art & Activism, and more.

We will explore intersectional identity and activism on our feet (and sometimes around a round table, Sarah Lawrence style). I hope that by exploring our individual component identities, students will gain a better understanding of our social constructions of race, class, gender, ability, sexuality, among others which will then allow us to explore larger systems of oppression and eventually ways to dismantle those systems through workshops, readings, and direct actions (including artistic expressions including Theatre of the Oppressed exercises).


  • Against Forgetting ed. by Carolyn Forché (and other poetry on social justice)
  • Theatre of the Oppressed (games and exercises) Augusto Boal
  • Literary Journals
  • Blogs (Everyday Feminism, Black Liberation Collective, etc.)

Rachel M. SimonRachel M. Simon, is the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Programs and LGBTQQ Coordinator at the Pace University, Pleasantville campus. Since 2003 she's taught courses in writing, gender studies, lesbian and gay studies, and film at Pace University, SUNY Purchase College, Fordham University, and Bedford Hills Maximum Security Prison. She serves on the Westchester County Government's LGBTQ Advisory Board and is the Vice President of the board of PrideWorks for Youth. Two collections of Simon's poetry have been published: Theory of Orange (2005) and Marginal Road (2009).

“Picturing the World You Want” with Jules Rosskam

Video has long been a tool of social justice activists and artists engaged in political movements. In this context, video is typically used to capture visual evidence of the problem; the injustice. But video is an equally powerful tool of imagining a world beyond the problem, beyond the injustice. In this course, students will explore how video can be used to address social injustices not as a method of documenting a problem, but as a way to imagine an answer to the problem. We will use moving images as a way to help us step into a new future, a new self, a new reality. Because the past plays a critical role in our understanding of the present and what is possible in and for the futures we dream up, students will also engage critically with an historical moment—or movement—through working with archival materials. Within the course, students will gain a basic understanding of how to shoot video, record sounds, and use a non-linear editing program. Emphasis for this course is on the content produced more than the technical prowess of the student. Its purpose is to teach and empower individuals with all experience levels.

Jules RosskamJules Rosskam is an award-winning filmmaker, educator, and interdisciplinary artist interested in liminal spaces: the space between male and female, between documentary and fiction, between moving image and still. His interdisciplinary practice investigates the means by which we construct individual and collective histories and identities. Recent screenings include the British Film Institute, Arsenal Berlin, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, and the Queens Museum of Art. Recent residencies include Marble House Project, PLAYA, ACRE, Yaddo, and ISSUE Project Room. Rosskam holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Film, Video, New Media, 2008). He has been a guest lecturer at various academic institutions, and is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at University of Maryland Baltimore County. His most recent films, Paternal Rites and Something to Cry About, are forthcoming in early 2018.

“A Vision of Justice” with Syreeta McFadden

On the Nexus of Writing and Photography in Exporting Narratives of Social Justice

Why are word and image crucial to the work of social justice? How can we use photography and writing to shift our perspectives to engage and invite change? For a time, we’ll try to world build, and develop a critical aesthetic around the imagery of social justice and storytelling that will inform our own work. We’ll consider the work of photojournalists, documentary, and fine art photographers who work as witnesses but also provoke transformative thinking around identities and written works from Rebecca Solnit, Claudia Rankine, Grace Lee Boggs, James Baldwin, Jeff Chang, and Teju Cole.

Syreeta McFaddenSyreeta McFadden is a writer and professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. Syreeta’s work deals largely with gender, politics, race, and culture, and explores the cultural narratives of communities. Her work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, BuzzFeed News, NPR, Brooklyn Magazine, Feministing, and The Guardian, where she had been a regular contributor. A former urban planner and housing development specialist, she holds degrees from Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently working on a collection of essays.