The Western Center for Social Impact and Innovation is open to students of all majors across Miami, though it is closely tied to the Western Program for Individualized Studies. The Western Program is dedicated to developing students as independent thinkers with the skills to address the complex challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Classes taught by Western Program faculty engage students in interdisciplinary thinking and form a foundation for individualized and integrated study that draws from the humanities, sciences, arts, social sciences, and professional programs.


WST 301 | Interdisciplinary Problems and Questions

(3 credits)

This course's spring offerings will center on the Western Center's current biennial theme. During the spring 2022 and 2023 semesters, the focus will be on Reparations as Restorative Justice.

Reparations can play a critical role in social change and progress, and they can take on many forms including monetary. They are designed to redress cases of egregious injustice including the damage caused by wars, discrimination against people of particular ethnicities, and varied instances of exploitation of targeted populations. Like many contemporary scholars and activists in the field, we see reparations as one critical tool among many in the toolbox of restorative justice. 

In 1988, the Federal Government granted reparations to Japanese Americans incarcerated in concentration camps at the outbreak of World War II. This provides a legal precedent for considering future reparations for Native Americans and for the descendants of those who were enslaved. For example, a majority of Americans believe that the violence and trauma wrought by more than two centuries of chattel slavery was wrong. However, the nature of reparations for slavery and to African Americans impacted by the subsequent forms of institutionalized racism is fraught with disagreement. Though we will focus most on the question as it pertains to African Americans and Native Americans, we will compare and contrast diverse contexts for reparations via case studies, arguments for and against different forms of restitution, and approaches to reconciliation. 

Special interest will be given to place-based and localized truth-seeking resources, such as the Oxford Ohio’s Black History Tour, Black Mobility in Oxford, Smith Library of Regional History’s Great Migration Oral History Collection, Butler-Warren County African American Historical Society, the local collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative, the Myaamia Center, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, and the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center. Students will be encouraged to explore their own experiences with discrimination, and consider their responsibilities toward those affected by different forms of exploitation and oppression.

Living Learning Community (LLC)

The WEST LLC is designed to put students in the driver's seat when it comes to their life at Miami. Hosted by the historic Western Program and new Western Center for Social Impact and Innovation, WEST will support its residents in identifying their individual assets and passions and applying them as strengths to whatever academic path they choose.

The paired course - WST251 - will aid WEST's students in developing their own approaches to learning that can create innovative and impactful change in themselves and the world. WEST students have access to the myriad of community programming in Peabody Hall, including national speakers and successful alumni who have dedicated their lives to social change.

This LLC is dedicated not only to helping its students through college, but also to preparing people for their lives after Miami. WEST is in historic Peabody Hall, which is surrounded by forest trails, ponds, and other beautiful natural spaces.