In addition to teaching classes, our Ethnic, Gender, and Women's Studies faculty understand the importance of outreach in communities near and far. Below are some of the programs our faculty are involved in.
The Racial Issues Colloquium at St. Cloud State University endeavors to be a positive model to other campus communities seeking to combat racism, discrimination and other forms of oppression. By means of curricular design the Colloquium contributes to the critical examination and transformation of campus culture as we teach to a generation of students that need to understand each other in a global society. We challenge our students to critically examine power relations while deepening and strengthening a commitment to racial and social justice.
The Pipeline Summer Camp Programs aims to give elementary through high school students an eye-opener to college life at St. Cloud State. Depending on age, students participate in Math Science Computer Camp, Scientific Discovery Program, or Advanced Program in Technology and Science.
Beth Berila’s current work integrates embodied practices with social justice to help more deeply transform ourselves, our communities, and the world in which we live. Her book, Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy: Social Justice in Higher Education (2nd edition, 2023, Routledge), explores how mindfulness and somatics can help students unlearning deeply conditioned practices and ideologies that uphold oppression in order to co-create liberation. Beth facilitates workshops on social justice, pedagogy, and embodied transformation in a variety of contexts.
She is also the host of the ChangeMaking Connections podcast, where she invites inspiring changemakers in a variety of professional contexts to talk about the joys and challenges, strategies and possibilities in working for social justice.
Selected publications and talks:
On July 7th 2006, while on a fact finding mission to Kenya on behalf of NGATHA International, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with several women groups about their community self-help development projects in Ndaragwa division, Nyahururu, Kenya. Due to the fact that this area is part of Kenya’s Semi-Arid region, frequent draught and famine conditions have immensely exacerbated the level of poverty in many families. Despite the deplorable status and harsh economic conditions, women in Ndaragwa have organized and initiated various self-help community-based projects to improve their lives and those of their children. However, their efforts are greatly hampered by lack of material and financial resources.
One thing that touched me the most is the plight of orphans in the area. Poverty, compounded by the devastating HIV/Aids pandemic has contributed to a high number of orphans. When famine strikes orphans are the most affected. And, because such children are always at the mercies of the already impoverished community for provision, their schooling and livelihoods are adversely affected. It is heartbreaking to see women who are already overly burdened with their household tasks taking up and extending their mothering and care-giving roles and responsibilities to the orphans thus stretching even thinner their meager resources.
The main objective of the orphanage is to give the most needy and at-risk-orphans a home-like environment that will cater to their total well-being. The care of millions of orphans has become one of the greatest challenges facing many of the African countries including Kenya. In the past, the burden was often assumed by the extended family but unfortunately many people are experiencing an acute economic hardship. NGATHA International Children’s Home opened its doors to 60 needy children in January 2007 and is currently taking care of their daily upkeep, including food, clothing, health and counseling.
We also started a school providing primary education from Kindergarten to 6th grade. Because of the acute need for resources to run the orphanage, I started to mobilize the students at St Cloud State University to get involved in fundraising activities on campus to benefit the orphanage. In addition to working with student organizations, I asked several faculty members to include NGATHA International orphanage project in the list of the service learning opportunities for their students. I have had tremendous support from such programs as Social Responsibility, Human Relations and Women’s Studies as well as students’ organizations such as OPAA, African Students Association, and Women’s Action for Liberation and Leadership on campus.
In line with the university’s mission to provide our students with international experience through globalizing our programs, this project has opened up new avenues of engagement with global issues for St. Cloud State students. The project has also enhanced my teaching, scholarship, and contribution to the university and the community as stipulated in Article 22 of EPT.
I have begun to see new lines of connection between teaching, creative scholarship and research emerging out of my teaching of the International Perspectives on Women and Gender, Women and Development in Third World, and the Study Abroad to Tanzania and the subsequent linking of these courses with Global/Transnational/Postcolonial activism through students’ initiatives and involvement with international outreach projects on campus through NGATHA International. NGATHA International hopes to establish networks around its projects with the aim to connect the St. Cloud State students with the St Cloud community and with the larger global community.
The award-winning Native Studies Summer Workshop for Educators is designed to increase the knowledge, sensitivity and awareness of Minnesota educators, administrators, and student service providers on the histories, cultures and languages of the federally recognized tribes and bands in Minnesota.
This high-quality professional development program will promote a greater understanding of American Indian issues and provide opportunities to critically evaluate educational materials and resources. The goal of the Native Studies Summer Workshop for Educators is to facilitate learning among teachers, administrators, and student service providers in order to increase the effectiveness of working with American Indian students and teaching American Indian content.
This award-winning Anti-Racist Pedagogy Across the Curriculum (ARPAC) Institute is a collaboration between faculty in ETHS, Multicultural Resource Center, and Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative. The Institute is offered to higher education teaching faculty within and beyond Minnesota.
ARPAC engages faculty in an analysis of systemic racism and provides a conceptual framework focused on anti-racist pedagogy for a rigorous and relevant curriculum. The Institute also provides an ongoing Community of Practice to support faculty, across the curriculum, in their teaching and commitment to anti-racist praxis.
In addition, participating faculty are encouraged to develop campus-specific strategies for broader anti-racism organizing across their institutions.