How social justice inspires creativity in online learning

Instead of a final paper, sociology students used their creativity to explore social justice
By: | May 22, 2020
Sociology studentsSociology students at Hamilton College were inspired by the campus museum's social justice exhibit to get creative with their final projects, which included collages and videos addressing gender equity and the lack of diversity at the Oscars. at Hamilton College were inspired by the campus museum's social justice exhibit to get creative with their final projects, which included collages and videos.Sociology students at Hamilton College were inspired by the campus museum's social justice exhibit to get creative with their final projects, which included collages and videos addressing gender equity and the lack of diversity at the Oscars.

The Hamilton College museum’s social justice exhibit kept students highly engaged in their final Sociology 101 projects, even after the students left campus.

Instead of assigning a final paper, assistant professor Jaime Kucinskas gave her students—many of whom were pre-med and STEM majors—a chance to combine their creativity with their concerns about social justice.

She also didn’t want to simply assign more reading and writing while students were isolated a home.

“For a lot of them, art was a stretch,” Kucinskas says.


More from UBHow one college blends online and face-to-face learning


Before campus closed, the students toured the museum’s spring exhibition, SUM Artists Visual Diagrams and Systems-Based Explorations, and then participated workshops in podcasting, digital editing and blogging.

Once students went home, Kucinskas said her first priority was to check on the well-being of her class: “The first touchpoint was, ‘Are you OK?’ ‘What’s going on?”

[VIDEO: One students’ final video explored the environmental impact of the fashion industry.]

About a quarter of her students were dealing with economic issues or health problems. Others had to find full-time work to help support parents who had lost jobs.

Yet, her students really dug into their projects as they shared their early drafts and received feedback.

“We’re more in touch than we would have been during a normal class, and it was over something constructive that we were building together,” she says. “It has made me more eager to try out other kinds of assignments like this and teach sociology using students’ different skill sets.”


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.


Interested in technology? Keep up with the UB Tech® conference.