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Theatre at Aquinas College

Theatre for Social Change (BA)

The Theatre for Social Change (TFSC) major at Aquinas College is one of only a handful nationwide. This hybrid major is comprised of coursework from Theatre, Sociology, and Community Leadership. The Bachelor’s degree in TFSC is rooted in theory (Augusto Boal, Keith Johnstone), history and studio practice of performance alongside hours of hands-on service learning with community partners, the study of non-profit leadership skills including grant writing and intercultural communication, and the devising of an original capstone project. Students apply their aesthetic and storytelling talents to current social justice issues, declaring the truth of problems and exploring new approaches towards solutions--in real life situations, not just in the classroom. Students will be prepared for a myriad of real world opportunities in performance, or to pursue further study in tangent fields such as clinical therapy, public administration, social work, education or performance studies.

This major is particularly suited to AQ’s mission and strengths as an institution. It directly involves two of AQ’s foundational charisms--service and community. Students will be heavily engaged through service learning by researching and then connecting with local community groups--ethnic, service, institutional, civic, social work, etc--identifying stories or challenges from within that community and then devising work for that audience or a general audience based on their first-hand primary research.

Major Requirements: Fourty-five (45) semester hours
Required courses:

  • TE140 Improvisation (3) AP
  • TE141 Acting 1 (3) AP
  • TE242 Script Analysis (3)
  • TE220 Contemporary World Theatre (3) AT, GP
  • TE/EH352 Script Writing (3) AP
  • TE361/2 Theatre History I or II (3) AT
  • TE320 Theatre For Social Change (3) AT
  • CL100 Introduction to Community Leadership (3)
  • SY260 Social Problems (3)
  • CL300 Fund Development and Grant Writing (3)
  • CN301 Intercultural Communication* (3)
  • CL396 Practicum in Community Leadership** (4)
  • CL/TE400 CL/Theatre Capstone Seminar (Applied Theatre Project) (4) SC
  • Three (3) semester hours of electives from below courses:
    • CL/SY209 Sustainable Cities and Environmental Justice (3)
    • SY213 Race and Ethnicity (3) GP
    • SY302 Community Sociology (3)
    • TE241 Acting 2 (3)
    • TE244 Directing I (3)
    • TE384 Children’s Theatre (3) AP
    • TY255 Catholic Social Teaching (3)

*--prerequisite is CN101, should be taken early on to fulfill GE requirement.
**--TFSC students will be in consultation with Theatre Program Director during the On-site Practicum semester to guide the preparation for the Capstone Devised or Scripted Project.


  • TE140 Improvisational Acting (3)

    Artistic method of improvisation focusing on the individual and ensemble exploring spontaneity, group cohesion and trust, pantomime skills, characterization and performance. Both comedic and dramatic improvisation are explored.

  • TE141 Acting I (3)

    Introduction to the technique of acting using theatre games, improvisation, text analysis, monologue and scene work, rehearsal etiquette and technique, and performance. Explores the release of tension and freeing the actor’s body and voice. Rehearsals outside of class are required. 

  • TE242 Script Analysis (3)

    Artistic approaches to analyzing and interpreting dramatic texts for the purposes of directors, actors and designers. Includes Aristotelian, structural, image-based, action-based and research-based modes of analysis.

  • TE220 Contemporary World Theatre

    A survey course of globally significant plays, movements, performances and perspectives on live performance, including monologuists, directors, devising teams and theorists from around the world. The course will also emphasize how global works - both Western and non-Western - have influenced the art form in the U.S. and elsewhere. Readings and videos will come from multicultural American, English-speaking, Latino and European countries as well as Japan, China, India, Iceland and Africa. 

  • EH352/TE352 Script Writing (3) (AP) (WI)

    The writing of scripts for the stage and/or screen and the study of the elements of script writing. Prerequisite: EH210.

  • TE361 Theatre History I (3)

    Survey from Greek theatre to the closing of the theatres in Commonwealth England (1642). Designed to familiarize the student with various periods of theatre history, both the physical aspects and the genre of drama that evolved from each period. Readings of representative plays are required.

  • TE362 Theatre History II (3)

    A continuation of TE361; from Restoration England (1660) through contemporary. Readings of representative plays are required.

  • TE320 Theatre for Social Change (3)

    This course provides a survey of the types of theatrical approaches under this heading, including educational theatre and theatre for young audiences, performative techniques in social work and the public sector as well as the corporate sector, and applied theatre with an emphasis on social justice. Students will be exposed to both practice and process type work in a variety of contexts, including marginalized groups, a variet of age demographics, prisons, institutions and others. Students will also engage in praxis for building original work through ethnographic research and group devising. 

  • CL100 Exploring Community Leadership (4) PSC

    This introductory course for the Community Leadership major and minor introduces students to the concepts of community, service, civic responsibility, social justice, social entrepreneurship, and leadership in public and nonprofit organizations. In addition to regular class meetings, students will spend at least thirty (30) hours, or 2-3 hours per week, in volunteer/service-learning situations relevant to careers in public, social service, or non-profit organizations. Students will use these volunteer/service-learning experiences coupled with course readings, in-class discussion with the instructor, community leader guest speakers, and peers to begin developing a “reflect, act reflect” framework for community engagement.

  • SY260 Social Problems (3)

    This course introduces students to the social constructivist approach to studying social problems. Students will learn to examine the origins of social problems, the process of claimsmaking that define issues as social problems, and how these processes might affect individuals, groups, and policies. In this process students will understand how social problems are constructed in everyday life, develop skills to critically assess claims about social problems, and use course concepts to analyze the social construction of a variety of contemporary social problems.

  • CL300 Fund Development and Grant Writing (3)

    This course provides an introduction to fund development, grant research, and grant writing. Through effective partnership with a nonprofit organization and hands on experience, students will learn about the principles, practices, and strategies of fund development and write a complete grant proposal by the end of the course. Prerequisite: CL100

  • CN301 Intercultural Communication (3)

    Analysis of verbal and nonverbal language relativity and potential barriers and breakdowns in communication between individuals of differing cultures, subcultures, including not only national and ethnic differences, but also differences in age, sex, vocation, financial status, etc. Prerequisite: CN101.

  • SY396/CL396 Sociological Practicum in Community Leadership (4)

    In this field placement course, students spend at least 150 hours, or 10-15 hours per week, in service-work/learning-work situations relevant to careers in public, social service, or non-profit organizations, in addition to regular meetings with the instructor. This practicum provides the practical experience for deepening community engagement and raising important questions about society and social justice. Prerequisites: CL100 or SY101. This course is not accepted for the Social Science General Education requirement.

  • CL400 Community Leadership Capstone Seminar (3) SC

    This course builds on the “reflect, act, reflect” framework of community engagement started in CL100 and continued in CL396. Students utilize their recent experience in CL396 to develop an analysis of how the agency and the larger community might more effectively address suffering, social problems, and social injustice. In concert with the student’s organization, community leaders, and the instructor, students reciprocate the time and training they received at their organization by completing at least one higher-level community project that increases the ability of the organization to fulfill its mission and each student’s ability to impact the community (e.g., program development, program assessment, fundraising, grant writing, direct action, legislation, social entrepreneurship, policy-making, social advocacy, activism, legislation, social entrepreneurship, policy-making, social advocacy, activism, mutual aid, direct service, social work, letter writing/petitioning campaigns).

  • TE400 Theatre Capstone Project (Variable) SC

    This is the culmination of a student’s education demonstrated in a performative/creative project OR research project, developed in regular consultation with the Program Director
    and/or a designated project advisor.

  • CL209/SY209 Sustainable Cities and Environmental Justice (3)

    In this course, students investigate sustainable cities and environmental justice from the perspectives of social science scholars, focusing on the meaning of the global environmental crisis for particular urban areas. Throughout the course, students will identify, describe, and evaluate multiple theories and findings that attempt to explain and uncover how cities strive to be sustainable but fall far short of the demands for environmental justice. This course will enable students to attribute multiple social science theories and findings accurately, to take a position based on these theories and findings, to raise and answer counterpoints to these theories and findings, to pose solutions to environmental-based urban problems, and to use sustainability and environmental justice as frameworks for problem-solving.

  • SY213 Race and Ethnicity (3) GP

    This course examines the underlying social and cultural dynamics of selected multicultural groups in the U.S. and around the world, emphasizing intersectionality, dimensions of unequal power, and racism.

  • SY302 Community Sociology (3)

    Examination of communities of place and interest through a sociological perspective. Topics include history of community, theories of community sociology, community power and leadership, rural and urban communities, and factors influencing community growth and decline. Prerequisite: SY101, GY120 or CL100.

  • TE241 Acting II (3)

    Deeper exploration into the technique of acting using method and non-method approaches to monologue and scene study. A more specific focus on vocal and physical awareness, character work, bold acting choices and genre. Rehearsal outside of class is required. Prerequisite: TE141 or consent of instructor.

  • TE244 Stage Directing I (3)

    Introduction to the art of directing focusing on composition, picturization, audition, staging, dramatic rhythm and pace, rehearsal technique and leadership qualities. The course culminates with student directed ten-minute plays. Rehearsals outside of class are required. Prerequisite: TE242 or consent of instructor. 

  • TE384 Children’s Theatre (3)

    Explores dramatic texts intended for child audiences. Introduction to performance techniques for YA audiences as well as to major contributors to the field of children’s theatre. Performances may be required. Prerequisite: TE141 or Consent of instructor

  • TY255/CA255 Catholic Social Teaching (3) TF

    The official social doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The primacy of the person, human rights, the common good, family, natural law, meaningful work, just war.