Approximately six years ago, Community College Faculty had their first mini conference with the support of the Western Political Science Association. Finally, the arduous work Community College Faculty and Community Colleges had been doing was recognized. The role of the Community College and Faculty teaching at an AA degree granting institutions has been to serve as front line workers at these intermediary institutions that help ameliorate the impact of secondary educational neglect often fostered by social and economic injustice. As Community College Faculty we facilitate this by providing the educational foundation for students pursuing undergraduate degrees, acquiring new trades and skills. The role of the Community College and the Faculty who serve at these institutions is to provide social justice to underrepresented, marginalized and often considered at risk student populations by providing these individuals the tools needed to earn a decent living by learning a new trade or skill to facilitate economic and social empowerment.
The role of the Community College and the Faculty who choose to serve at these institutions is to also help articulate their students’ academic endeavors by facilitating an educational pathway that will result in earning a college degree. This will provide the foundation for further specialized undergraduate, graduate degree advancement and attainment. This is the function of a Community College and the Faculty who teach there with purpose and intentionality. It is to help fulfill the dream of the first-generation college graduate, to provide a space for the displaced homemaker or recently laid off employee that must embark upon a new career at a time when one should be planning retirement. In short, Community Colleges and Community College Faculty provide a safe haven for students to accomplish their academic goals and create a safety net for dreams deferred to be realized. Expectations are established by instructors who not only teach but also mentor and care for their students long after the semester is completed, and the last final exam has been administered.
The Western Political Science Association by facilitating a space for Community College Faculty to demonstrate their talents and pedagogical innovation, continued publication and research has allowed the unsung heroes and heroines in higher education to demonstrate strategies for students’ success in their educational endeavors. This is what Community College Faculty have been doing for years, unrecognized. The theme of the 75th WPSA Annual Meeting was: Lighting Up the New Dawn, Recover, Reconcile and Rebuild. Community College Faculty have held the floodlights for this new dawn for a long time. Approximately three years ago the Western Political Science Association created a formal committee designed for Community College Faculty. This WPSA status committee has a primary objective of addressing the needs of Community College Faculty and students.
The committee is focused on presenting our research, publications and pedagogical innovation at the Western Political Science Association conferences held annually. We are profoundly appreciative of this opportunity to create even more specialized mini conferences within the larger WPSA conference that provides professional development opportunities for Community College Faculty. The impact of innovative pedagogy that we are committed to facilitating includes but is not limited to maintaining a commitment of incorporating social justice teaching within the discipline of Political Science.
The social justice uprising of 2020 amidst a global pandemic radically altered the way higher education conducted pedagogy and assessment resulting in a more intentional deliberation to provide equitable learning outcomes for all students, despite the ongoing achievement gaps that have existed for decades. The social injustice, subsequent uprisings in 2020 also demonstrated the pervasive need to fully engage and analyze the meaning of equality and justice in the 21st Century within the framework of teaching Political Science courses and subsequent research published. The Community College Committee established by the Western Political Science Association is committed to the professional development of Community College Faculty and the promotion of their research. In addition, the Community College mini conference highlights the success of our students by their presence at our mini conferences and delivering the keynote address. The goal of WPSA’s Community College Committee, the annual mini conference is to also promote the growth of Community College faculty and students. Historically, we have panels with Community College faculty, administrators and students. These students share their love for justice, continued hope, faith in humanity and their political acumen will serve to light up a new dawn in Political Science. We continue to encourage faculty to participate and join this committee. Our presence in higher education is invaluable. WPSA has provided a space for us to engage, collaborate and advocate.
Chair: La Della Levy, College of Southern Nevada (2023-2026)
Co–Chair: Rogelio Garcia, East Los Angeles College (2023-2026)
Kelly Velasquez, East Los Angeles College (2021-2024)
Tony Wohlers, Harford Community College (2023-2026)
Dino Bozonelos, Victor Valley College (2023-2025)
Elsa Diaz, Pikes Peaks State College, Honorary Founding Member (2017 - Current)