Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars

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.

For 2020-2021, EMDS LLC will focus on Afro-Caribbean diasporic music, arts, and community organizing against displacement from San Francisco to San Juan. Puerto Rican art and cultural practices have played a key role in helping people survive the violence of Spanish and U.S. colonialism, and in sustaining struggles for social change on the island and in the diaspora. We will consider how communities organize for autonomy and sustainability, and the particular role of art, healing and grassroots organizing in the fight for home, whether it is to defend the earth, stay in one’s home, or to migrate and begin anew.  

The class begins with history and sociology of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and the importance of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora for U.S. citizenship, politics, and culture. We will pay special attention to the connections between social history and traditional Puerto Rican music, the rhythms and stories that connect diverse diasporic musical traditions and genres, from bomba to son to salsa to hip hop and reggaeton. In dialogue with creative texts, artists, musicians and community organizers, students will analyze how the politics of nationality, race, gender, sexuality, disability, intersect with market forces and economic policy, impacting artists and social movements in the Bay and Puerto Rico. What resources for hope and lessons for social justice organizing do Puerto Rican artists and activists offer non-Puerto Rican communities? What can we learn from the powerful, creative activist work in defense of home and community here in San Francisco? How can we help defend our homes and communities through political practices that are more deeply inclusive, sustainable, and joyful?

Current and Incoming students can see more information and apply on the EMDS myUSF site.

Core Requirements Fulfilled

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

Community Events

Successful applicants will live in the designated space for Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars in Toler 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, the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, and Student Housing.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Sears at or (415) 422-5482.

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

Contact Info

Office of Student Housing

Mon. - Fri. 8:30 a.m - 5 p.m.

University Center, Fifth Floor
2130 Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA 94117-1045
(415) 422-6824 (415) 422-2480