Social Justice and Human Rights Concentration

Imagining and applying strategies for creating and sustaining a more equitable, just, and humane world

Noah Foster

Noah Foster

Why did you choose George Mason University and the Interdisciplinary Studies Program?

I chose George Mason and this specific program because of the ability to take courses in all different departments. The program sounded amazing, and I really loved the idea of crafting a degree specific to my interests (prison abolition and racial justice). I also loved that there were so many courses offered online for maximum flexibility.

What lead you to choosing your concentration within MAIS? 

Ultimately, I knew I wanted my studies to focus on social justice issues. While I hadn't quite narrowed down my research interests when I entered, I knew this concentration would allow me to explore whatever I wanted to study.

How do you hope to use your degree and studies in the future? 

I'll be beginning law school in the Fall of 2024. This program has prepared me with a well-rounded understanding of current and historical social justice issues. I know that when I pursue my J.D. degree, I will come equipped with a solid theoretical foundation and understanding of criminalization, race, and gender.

If you have participated in an Experiential Learning (MAIS 695), tell us little about it.

I completed my Experiential Learning (MAIS 695) credits in the Summer of 2023 with the Prince William County Office of the Public Defender. As a legal intern, I conducted bond interviews with clients in the detention center, attended trials, and wrote sentencing memos that were read by the judge on the case. This experience was life-changing and has solidified my desire to be a public defender. My supervisor and the other attorneys in the office knew the value of a graduate student in their office and gave me projects that were well-suited to my research strengths. I highly recommend any other students who are passionate about the law to reach out for placement there.

What part of your degree program had the most impact on you?

My Experiential Learning has been the best experience of this program by far. It was completely transformational, and I cannot express deeply enough how incredible it was to work in a public defense office. Additionally, I took the course WMST516 Policing Black Bodies with Dr. Wendi Manuel-Scott, and it has been the best course I have had the pleasure of taking in my two years at GMU. Not only is Dr. Manuel-Scott an incredible professor and mentor, but the course content itself is also transformational. You won't be the same person when you leave the class.

What advice would you give to new or prospective students in interested in your concentration?

If you are someone who doesn't quite know what research you want to do yet, but you know you are passionate about social justice, then this is the concentration for you. Dr. Shayna Maskell, the head of the concentration, is an incredibly helpful and kind. Do not be afraid to reach out to her with any questions you may have. If there is a topic you want to learn about but no class teaching it, then you can create an individualized study with Dr. Maskell. There is nothing you cannot learn in this concentration.