Interested in social justice leadership? A new program at Mills College launches in the spring.

‘Leading Social Change’ is the first academic program between Northeastern and Mills College since the two schools announced their planned merger in September. The new offering will be held in person on the Mills campus in Oakland, California, and begins in the 2021-2022 spring semester. Photo by Ruby Wallau for Northeastern University

The first academic program following Northeastern University’s announcement about the planned merger with Mills College, an institution with a deep history of advocacy surrounding racial and gender equity issues, is now enrolling Northeastern students who want to pursue future leadership roles in social justice causes.

The new program, titled Leading Social Change, starts in January 2022 when the spring semester kicks off and will be held in-person on the Mills campus in Oakland, California.

Open to all Northeastern students, the program will be taught by Mills faculty, says Chris Gallagher, vice chancellor for global learning opportunities and an English professor at Northeastern.

“This is our first academic partnership, and it emerged from conversations between Mills and Northeastern about harnessing the traditions and strengths of Mills College’s academic mission,” he says.

“Mills has a long history of programs that focus on social change, equity and justice and we were excited to build a program that will allow students to learn from leaders in the Mills community, and in the broader Oakland community as well,” Gallagher adds.

The program is open to all undergraduate students. They will be required to take a project-based, four-credit course, Leadership for Social Change. There is a selection of 15 additional courses that range from sociology and business to criminal justice and race and ethnic relations.

“The Mills Leadership Scholars will enjoy robust engagement and dialogue around racial, gender, and social justice topics with the Mills community of learners and teachers within the classroom and campus,” said Pat Hardaway, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at Mills.

“They also will experience meaningful engagement with community activist leaders and professionals in the wider Oakland and Bay area corporate, governmental and not-for-profit organizations,” she adds.

The inaugural program also gives Northeastern students access to related events such as the Tech Intersections conference: Womxn of Color in Computing and the Center for Transformative Action conference at Mills: Unfinished: Actualizing an Intersectional Antiracist Future.

Housing, meal plan, and program fees have all been waived for the inaugural group of registered students. They would still pay spring tuition and be responsible for transportation to and from Oakland.

The purpose of bringing together the East and West coast campuses “is really about our Northeastern students having an experience unlike any they could get here in Boston,” says Gallagher.

Students who complete the program will be designated Mills Leadership Scholars. Aside from the Bay Area’s progressive attitudes are the cultural differences that come from sitting on the edge of the Pacific Rim, according to Mark Henderson, director of the public policy program at Mills.

“I was fortunate to attend schools in both Massachusetts and California, and having a bicoastal perspective really helps to understand the opportunities and challenges for adapting policies from one place to another,” he says.

The deadline for students to apply for Leading Social Change is November 1, 2021.

For media inquiries, please contact