From Decolonial Computing to Queer Theory, These Gallatin Students Are Concentrating on Change

These Gallatin concentrations are nothing if not unique — and pretty ambitious.

Melanie Ezster
Facade of Gallatin's NYU building, home many distinct majors (Renee Yang)

At the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, students study everything from the study of love to the color blue and even Harry Potter. This year, students are picking even more engaging and niche majors.

Finding interest in society’s interaction with technology after taking a creative coding class, senior Emily Fong is now focusing on breaking down barriers in decolonial computing. Fong’s concentration is a combination of computer science, public policy and colonial theory.

“I am interested in using technology specifically in a decolonizing framework,” Fong said. Her studies are focused on how technology is used on local and political levels.

“We can begin to think of using technology not as a solution but as a tool, using it to center indigenous experiences, making sure it is being used for good,” Fong said. She wants to delve into technological experiences of the present. Looking forward to post-graduation life, Fong wants to get a job in civic technology, working with local governments and nonprofits.

Just as technology can impact a vast number of people, the same can be said of religion. For one Gallatin student, his major consists of classes dealing with power structure, gender studies and theology. This Gallatin senior, Jonathan Ji, is concentrating on queer theory.

“I’m interested in how queers exist within Christianity because of the religion’s role in society and spreading into ethics,” Ji said. He discovered his interest for the field while studying abroad in London through the Gallatin fashion track. He was able to learn more about gender studies and the different fashion styles of both men and women. From there, he found his interest and then began questioning his own life experiences.

“During my sophomore year [of high school] I was kicked out of a couple Christian churches and a couple Christian fellowships. I was just wondering why I was such a threat to the church?

Why are people afraid of us — we are not violent,” Ji said.

For Ji, this fueled a search for churches that prioritized inclusivity.

“What I focus on are gay churches because that was the first space where I actually felt welcomed,” Ji said. Looking to the future he wants to create resources for gay Christians to make them aware of the support that exists today.

Support is a huge mission at Gallatin as the many faculty members and advisors strive to encourage all of their students to pursue their unique concentrations.

Gallatin junior Rachel Bass has allowed all of her interests to fuse into her unique concentration: Real and Imagined Roads.

“It’s the integration of anthropology, science, business management and theater,” Bass said.

Her multifaceted interest was sparked by a combination of experiences. With a passion for science, she focuses on climate change and geology. This has always been a part of her life. On the other hand, her love for theater and directing fused after taking a classes on lighting and dramaturgy. All of her interests, old and new, came together when she began at Gallatin.

“I realized that part of theater is world building: building a world that is fictional and that you can walk into and feel is real,” Bass said. “What we need to be doing is talking about climate fiction,

what happens 80 years down the line when things have changed and the possibilities for things to have changed.”

With her concentration, Bass would like to continue in the theater industry in some form while being able to blend all of her interests into a job that may not exist now but will be perfectly tailored to her concentration.

These students are all working to build a future fitting for both their lifelong dreams as well as the inclusion of others. As they use their unique interests to hone in how they can create change, looking to the future, these Gallatin students are ready to make giant strides towards a better tomorrow.

Email Melanie Ezster at [email protected] Emily Fong was WSN’s Opinion Editor in the fall of 2016.

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