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Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars live together in Phelan Hall. The community is open to second-year students.
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Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars

"Hip hop music is important precisely because it sheds light on contemporary politics, history and race. At its best, hip hop gives voice to marginal black youth we are not used to hearing from on such topics."— Michael Eric Dyson

"I think Hip Hop has the potential to be an agent of change, and there is a segment of Hip-Hop that does an enormous level of agitation... Hip-Hop can be a discursive ground or poetic force for a social movement"— Tricia Rose

This living-learning community explores issues of diversity, inequality, social justice, and social change. To do so, we draw upon the idea of "crossing borders and discovering home." For us, borders refer to real and imagined boundaries placed around us as individuals, and as members of various communities. Named after the late Esther Madríz, beloved USF professor of sociology who embodied the Ignatian ideals of education of the whole person as a means toward social justice, Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars examine and challenge these boundaries to gain a fuller understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Students in this program will explore the forty year culture of hip-hop, which started as Bronx neighborhood jams, and has become a multi-billion dollar business as well as a global “underground” network of youth subcultures. Throughout the year we will examine the four artistic elements of hip-hop (MCing, DJing, B-boy/B-girling and Graffiti Writing) and their social and cultural contexts. We will approach hip-hop through sociological frameworks to explore the role of poverty, globalization, immigration, racism, sexism, homophobia, unemployment, incarceration, and urban marginality on the creation and consumption of hip hop in the US and France. In addition, we will investigate how issues of “race” and authenticity as well as capitalism and commercialization impact the culture and ultimately the life chances of the hip-hop generation. Finally, we will examine hip hop's potential as a tool for activism. Can young people channel the culture’s transformative power? Can it unify the dispossessed across national borders? Can activists & community organizers address the negative aspects of the music? In other words, can this complicated social phenomenon effect positive political change?

Upon successful completion of the year, Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars fulfill these core requirements:

  • Social Science (Core E)
  • Cultural Diversity (CD)
  • Service-Learning (SL)

Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars participate in these events:

  • Fall weekend retreat
  • Weekly karamus (community gatherings)
  • Various service learning opportunities
  • Transborder travel experience to New York during winter intercession to gain new perspectives on social problems and their solutions
  • Fight the Power Community Education Event
  • Esther Madriz Celebration Dinner

Successful applicants will live in the designated space for Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars in Phelan Residence Hall. All community members are required to enroll in the EMDS courses for both fall and spring semesters.

This learning community is a collaborative effort between the Sociology Department and the Intercultural and Gender & Sexuality Centers.