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January 27th, 2012
Hip-Hop Culture makes the grade as new honors course


Texas State University’s 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 Texas State honors students seeking a bachelor’s degree in social work or 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.


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6 thoughts on “Hip-Hop Culture makes the grade as new honors course

  1. Hip-hop culture? And a honors course to boot. Does that befit an institution that strives for “Research University” status? What a joke.

  2. Would you say the same if it were a course on say 19th century American Southern Folk Culture? Or, how about Parisian common culture in the 50 years leading up to the French Revolution? How about ethnic Chinese peasant culture while under Mongol control during the Yuan Dynasty? Or how about the insights we can get by studying the development of Tejano Music in South Texas? Would you dismiss these classes so readily?

    I dare say that hip-hop (and no, I really don’t care for the music very much) is arguably the most important popular cultural movement of the past 2-3 decades and very much worthy of study. I suspect people (and we know that many in the Church actually did) said very much the same thing about Renaissance art coming out of the Middle Ages as you just did now…not unlike, I dare say, people early last century wrote off jazz and blues as “jokes” compared to the lofty polite culture embodied by classical music…

  3. I liken the current hip hop culture more to the hippie era of the 60s and 70s. At the time it too was heralded as the most important cultural movement in decades. Now it’s a mere blip on the radar of the history of American pop culture, worthy of curiosity but not serious study.

    The reason that the hippie movement died out and I believe the hip hop movement will do the same is that they have one important flaw in common – self destructive behavior. The hippie movement couldn’t sustain itself for long on tenets of free sex, anarchy, and drugs and I don’t think the hip hop culture can survive on gang banging, weed, and misogyny.

    To its credit, the hip hop movement has evolved to some degree and matured in some ways. Maybe it will continue to refine itself into a sustainable movement. But only time will tell for sure. Right now, for every Jay Z out there there are three Lil Waynes, though.

  4. Whether or not someone thinks a particular movement such as hip-hop has artistic merit (my God, the Romans thought mime was high art) or not — and I openly do not care much for hip-hop — the point is that it has had a HUGE impact on the popular culture of the past few decades in the USA and beyond (I think Tupac might be one of the most recognized and influential musicians worldwide from Asia to Africa to Europe based upon people who cite his influence). From the way we dress, shop, talk, and think it would be hard to deny that it has not been hugely influential, whether you believe it will pass the test of time or not (and I am guessing, just like with everything from early rock and roll to opera to punk rock, the good stuff will last and the rest will not), it has been very influential and studying it can offer us and insight into ourselves and that is what is important, not whether you think it is good music or not…

    I would also say the hippie movement is a good lens to investigate what was going on in the USA back then, just as looking at the sans-culottes offers good insight into the radicalization of the French Revolution or the itinerant preachers of the Colonial Period does the same for understanding the Great Awakening. You could say that none of these movements technically sustained themselves in their direct forms, but they definitely had influence and offered insight into how society at the time thought…and that makes them all worthy of study…

  5. Hmmmm. Maybe we all have different ideas of what “hip hop culture” is. I dare say Public Enemy is as worthy of study as Bob Dylan, or Jack Kerouac, and Chuck D is not about gang banging, weed and mysogyny, that’s for sure. There is plenty of that, but even some of that has value. Eminem has written some pretty compelling stuff, about a world most of us would prefer to ignore.

    I’d be very curious to hear what they cover, and I’d probably take the course.

    P.S. Jay Z is pretty weak.

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