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College social justice workshop to teach students 'privilege' — with game of Monopoly


"Get a lesson in social justice and perspective-taking at the same time"

Image source: YouTube screenshot

An Illinois college is hosting a Winter Symposium Day next week focused on social justice — and one of the numerous workshops at Augustana College is slated to teach students the concept of "privilege" through a game of Monopoly.

"Understanding the Effects of and Responses to Privilege Through Intergroup Monopoly" falls under Wednesday's "Session II" workshops from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. and will be led by Dr. Lisa Szafran, psychology and neuroscience, and Dr. Robert Wengronowitz, sociology, anthropology, and social welfare.

Here's how the event page describes the "Privilege Through Intergroup Monopoly" session:

Ever heard the phrase "don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes"? Why not learn that same lesson while playing a game according to someone else's rules. Come play a game of Monopoly and get a lesson in social justice and perspective-taking at the same time. Game play will be followed by a discussion of your experience moderated by a group of faculty members representing psychological and sociological perspectives.

But that ain't all

There are a bevy of choices for burgeoning social justice warriors who attend the one-day symposium:

  • Students can consider the "ethics" of watching sports: "Major League Baseball teams do everything in their power to avoid paying their minor leaguers a living wage. Soccer fans sing racist songs. Sneaker companies bribe athletes to attend the universities they sponsor. The questionable behavior of individual athletes is overlooked, or even enabled, as long as those athletes help their teams win. So, why do I keep watching? Is it wrong to do so? Can a fan (which is short for fanatic) be ethical?" the description asks.
  • There is, of course, a "microaggressions" workshop that will "help attendees identify microaggressions, shift from reaction to resistance, and learn to tactfully and effectively manage microaggressive situations."
  • Students also can learn about "Countering Islamophobia Through Performing Arts."
  • Another session will examine the "fundamental similarities within neighborhood gangs and Greek groups" and "note the undeniable privilege certain groups have due to race, social economic status, and higher education."
  • Attendees also can get a peek at "Social Justice in Brazil Under a Far-Right President." The workshop description doesn't mention by name newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro but says he "was a supporter of the military regime, called out a fellow member of Congress as too ugly to rape, openly pushed for the exile and imprisonment of leftist activists, and claimed he would rather his son be killed in a horrific accident than be gay."

Campus Reform said it reached out to Augustana College and hosts for additional comments about their events and goals but didn't immediately receive a response.

This writer's perspective

About the session slated to use Monopoly, no word yet if organizers are considering "Monopoly for Millennials," which was a big hit over the holidays. Given its "destinations" include a national park, an animal rescue, and a yoga studio rather than the likes of Park Place and Boardwalk, it should be right up participants' alleys.

Are we having a blast yet or what?

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