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Michelle Wexler

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Major: Social Justice, Social Change

(Additional Major: American Studies)

What is your IIM about?

My Independent Interdisciplinary Major entitled Social Justice, Social Change (SJSC) combines academic study and real world experience with the intention of providing a clear understanding of how to create social justice. There are four main objectives of the Social Justice, Social Change curriculum. First, the major addresses the concept of social justice and the limitations of a single definition. This objective involves understanding that social justice does not look the same in all communities, and exploring the differing ways in which the concept has been invoked and acted upon. Second, SJSC explores the culture and history of social change in the United States and abroad. The purpose of this objective is to gather background information on Social Justice and Social Change. This knowledge serves as a basis for future plans of action. Third, this curriculum explores and analyzes methods of change, and how challenges and possibilities associated with these methods vary across contexts. An integral part of my major is learning how to implement these methods of change. The last objective of this major stresses an understanding of the injustices in the world. Injustices cannot be eliminated unless there is a deep understanding of the issue and why it exists. Furthermore, my SJSC curriculum places a large emphasis on experiential learning with the belief that one cannot impact one’s community without a familiarity of that community and its needs.

When and how did you begin the IIM Process?

I did preliminary research on the IIM process in the second semester of my sophomore year but I really began the IIM process during the first semester of my junior year. I decided to pursue this major once I realized there was an inherent pattern in the classes that I had been choosing to take. I wanted to create a framework through which these classes could be organized so that I could demonstrate how they interact with one another. My first steps included reaching out to the IIM coordinator, Julia Moffitt Mani, in the Office of Academic Services as well as securing my primary advisor. With support from both of these individuals, I was able to secure two more advisors, complete my application, and develop my curriculum.

How are you pursuing the IIM outside of the classroom?

My extracurricular, study abroad, and summer experiences have acted as incredible supplements to my Social Justice, Social Change major. On campus, I serve as a coordinator for Brandeis Buddies, a Waltham Group organization dedicated to bridging the gap between adults with developmental disabilities and Brandeis students. I am also the Vice President of Boris' Kitchen Sketch Comedy Troupe, which has allowed me to explore theatre as a method of social change. Studying abroad in Denmark provided me with an amazing opportunity to engage with international issues first hand including human trafficking and immigration as well as experience an alternative method of government. My summer internships allowed me to explore the child welfare system as both a social work intern in New York City and a policy intern in Washington, D.C. I am looking forward to pursuing a career that will create change for the better.

What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing an IIM?

As a UDR (Undergraduate Departmental Representative) for the IIM Program, I cannot stress enough just how many support systems are in place for those pursuing an IIM. IIM Advisors, Academic Advisors, and UDRs are available to help develop majors that are well rounded, academically challenging, and personally interesting. These individuals can provide those pursuing an IIM with alternative opinions and suggestions. My IIM advisors suggested classes that I would not have included in my major otherwise and which have very much enhanced my curriculum. The Academic Advisor for the IIM program helped me compile my thoughts and ideas and the UDRs walked me through the application process.