This last week 12 Point Loma Nazarene University students got a change of scenery from sunny San Diego. The History and Political Science (HPS) Department had the opportunity to travel to New York City to dive deeper into their studies of social change.
“Creating Change and Claiming Power” is the course that is led by Dr. Linda Beail and Dr. Amy Nantkes this fall. It is a special studies elective and is not offered every semester at PLNU.
“I feel very honored to be able to partner with Dr. Beail in this learning experience,” Said Dr. Nantkes, political science professor. “When we were dreaming up the different spaces we would visit and the people and movements we would discuss in this class, it was like planning a special party and waiting at the door for everyone to arrive. But standing on the same ground that these vanguards once occupied? Game-changing.”
Dr. Beail teaches courses in American politics, political theory and gender & race politics.
“I’ve dreamed for a long time of taking students on a journey to where the US women’s rights movement officially began, at the Wesley Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848,” said Dr. Beail. “There is something so powerful about standing in the very spots where our foremothers dared to speak out and stand up — and from the suffrage movement for women’s right to vote, to labor, immigrant rights, abolition and beyond, all the movements for change we have been studying in this class collide in New York City.”
A lot of what is learned in this course is how to sustain social change which is so important for all of our futures, said Kyla Kinzle, a fourth-year political science major who attended.
Kinzle has a passion for learning about women’s movements and equality.
“When the course was advertised it talked a lot about women’s movements, and that’s something I’ve been really digging into lately,” said Kinzle, “I purposely designed my classes to revolve around women’s movements and this course seemed pretty perfect for that.”
Hudson Gilbert, second-year political science major, said studying and understanding social change is extremely important.
“It is the best way to learn about how to inspire change, by looking at how people have done that in the past,” said Gilbert. “Every great American activist has had someone they looked up to.”
Gilbert said that there is a lot in our country that needs to be changed and that studying the past can help motivate future change. Kinzle said being in New York helped her see history that shifted her perspective.
“We hear about all of these people who have done amazing things in our history, and they feel so distant,” said Kinzle. “Then you go to the places and see how they lived, the clothes they wore and the material things. It just makes everything come to life.”
Kinzle said that when historical figures seem unreachable and far from her, she feels like she cannot do anything amazing. But when these people and things come to life in more tangible ways, it makes her feel inspired and that she can create social change.
“Social change is really important,” said Kinzle. “There’s so much in the world that we want to change, and so many people get stuck in the frustration or hopelessness of not knowing where to start.”
The trip to New York City has also created positive memories and experiences for these students. Gilbert said one of his favorite parts of the trip is getting closer with classmates and learning more about networking and hearing stories from new-found friends made in NYC.
Kinzle said her favorite part of the trip so far has been walking around Washington Square Park at night because the city felt so alive and energetic.
This New York City trip was hosted by Dr. Linda Beail and Dr. Amy Nantkes, from the political science department. To be a part of school-led trips, keep an eye out for what special studies courses are offered for your major in coming semesters.
“I have a few favorite moments from the trip, but two really stand out,” Said Dr. Nantkes. “One is when we sat down for dinner on our first night with HPS alumni who are currently working in New York City. Watching the graduates ask the students what they care about and then engage in mentoring conversations told me everything I need to know about the prevailing ethos of this department— it really is a place where we cheer each other on.”
Social change and women’s rights movements were studied in New York through different pieces of art, experiences, and stories.
“It’s one thing to read about people claiming their power, but so much more impactful to experience the spaces, the art, the history and theater for oneself,” said Dr. Beail. “Students learned not just about the past, but about how people are telling stories today through material culture, art and theater in order to create more freedom and justice.”
Written By: KT Sansing