Students who earn the Certificate in Social Justice and the Performing Arts learn methods and practices to expand the parameters of their academic and arts disciplines to include diverse ways of thinking, creative problem solving, and practical applications for social justice-focused arts projects and scholarship in the United States and transnationally. The certificate is designed to foster interdisciplinarity between students from across the university, whether they are in the arts or not.

Students access and hone human-centered skills in empathy, compassion, and social responsibility, and gain a sense of belonging, equity, and inclusion as they approach their work and partner with others. They examine who the work will impact, determining who benefits, and how they can make ethical choices as they develop or collaborate on community-based creative projects. With a combination of performing arts and social justice courses and projects, certificate students will be better prepared to take on a wider range of career opportunities in and beyond performing arts organizations after graduation.

The certificate helps students to align their discipline studies more closely with their interests and their desire to be of service to their communities, to work in community with one another, and to collaborate with the wider community of Iowa City and beyond as they become fully engaged citizens of the global community.

The Departments of Dance, Theatre Arts, and Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies, and the School of Music collaborate to offer the certificate. The Department of Theatre Arts administers the certificate.

Learning Outcomes

The certificate provides the following competencies.

  • Increased knowledge about selected history of social movements, how those movements emerged, and the impacts those movements had on policy, populations, the environment, the arts, and culture.
  • The ability to explore through coursework how the intersections of geography, race, class, gender, sexuality, health, economics, and history create networks of privilege and oppression across the globe, and to reflect on situations they encounter in art and community engagement work.
  • The ability to explore the application of the role of performing arts in community and society throughout history and in established creative community engagement, social justice-based projects, and/or scholarly work, and how that focus can be applied to interdisciplinary social justice work.
  • The ability to read, write, listen, and act through social justice coursework in order to understand how conditions are created for change on the local, regional, and national level historically, ethically, politically, and personally.
  • The articulation of a vision that starts to inform their work, future project planning, and thinking about the arts and community that includes their ability to creatively conceptualize and articulate their personal goals while balancing the needs of community partners in a performance, social, and global context in relation to existing philosophies and theories, and to apply their vision to creative or scholarly engagement work.

The undergraduate Certificate in Social Justice and the Performing Arts requires a minimum of 21 s.h. of coursework, including at least 18 s.h. earned at the University of Iowa or in approved study abroad courses. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in coursework for the certificate. Coursework in the certificate may not be taken pass/nonpass.

The certificate may be earned by any student admitted to the University of Iowa who is not enrolled in a UI graduate or professional degree program. Undergraduate to Graduate (U2G) students may earn the certificate when the undergraduate classification is primary.

Students complete two foundation courses, one creative practice and skill-building course, three background courses, and one capstone course. They must meet with the certificate director or an area of study advisor every semester to discuss their course selections and plan for the capstone course.

Students who wish to count a course not listed in the certificate program of study, including study abroad courses, may submit a request for approval to the certificate director. Any course must address social justice themes.

Some of the courses have prerequisites; students must complete all of a course's prerequisites before they may register for a course. Some of these courses also have specific restrictions, such as courses being open only to certain majors.

The Certificate in Social Justice and the Performing Arts requires the following coursework.

Foundation Courses

Both of these:
THTR:3615Action! Engage! Art! Creative Placemaking for the Public Good3
SJUS:1001Introduction to Social Justice3

Creative Practice and Skill Building

Performing arts students must take a course outside their major or minor area of study to build partnerships across disciplines.

One of these:
THTR:1411Comedy and Society3
THTR:3421Performing Autobiography3
THTR:3630Special Topics in Theatre Arts (when topic is devised theatre project: social justice and collaborative performance or the musical as vehicle for social change)3
THTR:3895Performance, Art, and New Technologies in Society3
THTR:6310Special Topics in Playwriting (when topic is site specific performances and playwriting)3
DANC:1150Brazilian Culture and Carnival3
DANC:1412The Arts in Performance3
DANC:3600Art, Feminist Practice, and Social Justice3
EDTL:2670Peacebuilding, Singing, and Writing in a Prison Choir3
MUS:2800Digital Arts: An Introduction3

Background Courses

Performing arts students may take only one background course in their major or minor area of study. All students select 9 s.h. (three courses) from the following emphasis areas.

The Environment and Ecological Justice

THTR:6310Special Topics in Playwriting (when topic is climate and theatre)3
AFAM:4770Environmental Justice3
ANTH:3103Environment and Culture3
GEOG:3300Envisioning Future Worlds: Sustainable Development and Its Alternatives3
HIST:3263American Ruins3
RHET:3700Advocacy and Sustainability: Crafting Stories of People, Place, and Resilience3
SJUS:1046Environmental Politics in India3

Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies

THTR:2405Staging Americans: U.S. Cultures Through Theatre and Performance3
THTR:3430Women on Stage3
GWSS:3280Women and Power in U.S. History Through the Civil War3
GWSS:3282Women and Power in U.S. History Since the Civil War3
GWSS:3600Art, Feminist Practice, and Social Justice3
MUS:4320Music and Gender3
MUS:4360Jazz Matters3
SJUS:2500Love, War, Activism: Stories About Women from Across the World3

Global and Transnational Studies

THTR:2320Playwriting in a Global World3
THTR:6310Special Topics in Playwriting (when topic is cross-cultural collaboration: theatre and peace keeping, or theatre in conflict zones, or theatre and activism)3
DANC:2060Dance and Society in Global Contexts3
DANC:2085Introduction to African Caribbean Dance Practices3
GWSS:2650Global Reproduction3
HRTS:3906Global Crises and Human Rights3
MUS:1310World Music3
SJUS:3250Literature and Social Justice3

Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.

THTR:2405Staging Americans: U.S. Cultures Through Theatre and Performance3
AFAM:1241The Soundtrack of Black America3
AFAM:3053The Civil Rights Movement3
AFAM:3600Digitizing Blackness3
COMM:2054Movements, Protest, Resistance3
DANC:2065Performing Power/Performing Protest: The Body, Identity, and the Image3
HIST:3232History of American Inequality3
HIST:4260The Sixties in America3
MUS:1009Jazz Cultures in America and Abroad (section 100)3
MUS:1303Roots, Rock, and Rap: A History of Popular Music3
MUS:4350Advanced Jazz History3
SJUS:2294Indigenous Art Activism and Social Justice3
SJUS:3250Literature and Social Justice3
SJUS:3415Latina/o/x Protest, Movement, Resistance3

Capstone Course

Students submit a capstone project plan in the semester before they enroll in the capstone course.

One of these:
THTR:4691Projects in Theatre3-4
THTR:4692Honors Theatre Arts3-4
DANC:4990Independent Study3-4
DANC:4998B.F.A. Senior Project in Dance3-4
DANC:4999Honors Project in Dance3-4
GWSS:3900Research for Public Engagement3
MUS:3990Special Studies3-4
MUS:4995Honors in Music3-4