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Hip-Hop Culture makes the grade as new honors course

By Paige Wilkerson
University News Service
January 26, 2012

Texas State University-San Marcos’ School of Social Work will offer a new hip-hop course beginning with the 2012 spring semester.

The course, Hip-Hop Culture and Positive Youth Development, is available to all Texas State honors students regardless of major, and counts toward a minor in diversity studies.

HON 3395R examines the social and political dynamics of hip-hop culture. Students will use skills in reflection, discussion and creative expression to develop strategies for personal growth and development. The course focuses on the core elements of the positive youth development framework as a lens for viewing positive individual and community change.

Raphael Travis, Jr., assistant professor of social work and instructor of the new course, completed extensive research during the design and implementation of this new hip-hop course. Travis interviewed more than 500 students at Texas State and determined from these results that there was a demand for courses involving hip-hop culture.

"The introduction of hip-hop culture into the broader Texas State curriculum is not new, however the substantive integration with human development, socio-historical and therapeutic change concepts is an innovation worthy of pursuing," said Travis. "The course will foster significant creative expression and critical thinking skills that can be used by students long after the course ends."

Travis adds that through a variety of means, the course provides an interdisciplinary framework for increasing self and multicultural awareness with the goal of improved decision making.

Alexis Maston, second-year doctoral student in the College of Education, also assisted in the course development.

"Dr. Travis and I are both part of hip-hop generations and we are active participants in this culture," said Maston. "He creates mix tapes and I am a spoken word poet. It is important for the teacher or facilitator of these courses to be a part of the hip-hop culture."

Travis will implement the use of journal and narrative writing throughout the course. Students will be expected to create reflection and discussion journals in addition to their creation of an action plan. This plan will include the written journals and narratives accompanied by a CD or video log (vlog) with music and video to incorporate songs that align with journal themes.

"In the future, we plan to bring other hip-hop scholars to the Texas State campus as a means of encouragement and as a vehicle to increase persistence rates of hip-hop culture," said Maston.