By Steve KornackiWhen I started my career in the social sciences at the University of California, I found myself drawn to students who were interested in topics such as gender, race, sexuality, and disability.
The social sciences were full of people who were trying to make sense of social phenomena, and I wanted to understand them as well.
I wanted to know what they had learned, what they wanted to learn, and how to use those knowledge to help others.
I began by asking what was most important to them, what was the thing that they were most passionate about, and what was their greatest accomplishment.
I wanted them to be able to articulate these goals and aspirations in terms that were accessible to me.
I would also ask how they would go about reaching these goals, and who would pay for their efforts.
In this vein, I was particularly interested in students who wanted to use their social identity to change the world, especially those who wanted a future in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
For many of these students, it was about creating positive social change.
I also began to explore social media platforms.
This led me to create an online survey, which I sent to social identity theorists (SIDs) on Twitter and Facebook.
The survey included questions on topics such, “Do you have an affinity for a particular social identity?” and “Do YOU agree or disagree with this statement?”
This led to the development of the social identity essay, which is now a staple in the classroom.
The SIDs were asked to fill out an online questionnaire about their social identities, and then I conducted an online test of their ability to articulate their goals in a way that made sense to them.
I asked each student to write a short essay on their goals, including an overview of their experiences and thoughts.
I also invited students to participate in the online test by answering the questions posed by the SID.
After reviewing the results of this survey, I came to a realization that the students who filled out the SIDs essay had the capacity to change social situations, and to make social change happen.
This insight led me, in 2012, to create the social identification theory course.
In the course, I introduced students to the concepts of social identity, identity politics, and social commentary.
These courses were intended to help students understand the ways that social phenomena are influenced by issues of race, gender, class, sexuality and disability, and the ways in which social institutions, government, and individuals can affect social change in these areas.
Over the next year, I developed a program for the social identities program.
This program included the following elements: The SID-focused social identity research course (which I developed and designed) that introduced students in depth to the theories and theories of social identification; The SIDs theory course (designed by myself and my colleagues, who also taught it), in which students were encouraged to read and apply the theories; The social identity studies course, in which I developed the theory, and my collaborators; and, a weekly class called the Social Identity Theory (SOFT) podcast, inwhich I conducted a variety of class discussions.
The SOFT class was the most impactful aspect of the course.
It helped students see the importance of analyzing social phenomena from a social standpoint and to think critically about what social issues are important to students.
In other words, it provided students with an opportunity to learn from people who have the ability to make a difference.
I have found that the SOFT course has helped me to better understand students and their social lives.
I can now understand why students and teachers sometimes question their ability, and why some students feel frustrated by how much time they spend answering questions or answering tests.
It also gave me a sense of how important social identity theories are to students, because students have an intrinsic interest in learning and engaging with social issues.
Students and teachers who participate in these classes are often quite open to the questions asked, and often share their insights.
I have seen students engage with these theories in ways that are meaningful to them and to the world around them.
For example, a student recently asked me what she would do if she had children.
She said that if she could ask her child to ask the same questions about her future and future generations, she would be more open to changing her future.
I was interested in this student’s experience, and she said that her answer helped her think about how she could make changes to make the world a better place.
I hope that this student will find her answers in social identity theorizing, in the future.
I am also inspired by students who share their stories of how they have made social change and have benefited from social identity education.
These students, I believe, are the real social identity thinkers and social commentators.
These stories can be a window into how we are all connected and how we can change the status quo for the better.