ENGL 3506: Social Movements & Community Education

4 CreditsCivic Life and EthicsService Learning

In this course, we'll examine four progressive social movements. After beginning with a foundational civil rights movement example, we will learn about the anti-racist feminism branch of the women's movement, often referred to as \"third-wave feminism.\" We'll also study the Occupy movement that arose in response to the Great Recession (the financial crisis beginning in 2008). Then we'll take a look at two social movements that, while by no means underground, tend to fly below the radar: the prison abolition movement and the fight for public schools. While all of these social movements have different emphases, they also overlap quite a bit in their systemic analysis of society and their strategies for action. As activist, organizer, and trainer Rinku Sen observes, \"the history of community organizing and social movements is replete with tactics learned in one movement being applied to another.\" As we study these social movements, community organizing will be of particular interest to us. How do the groups, collectives, nonprofits, and communities propelling these different social movements organize themselves, their leadership, their strategies, and their activities? How do they make decisions? What do meetings and planning processes look like? What do they do when they disagree? How do they recruit and mobilize? How do they communicate with and confront the general public, elected officials, and the more powerful elements of the ruling class? How do they talk about the work they're doing? How do they develop a vision of the world they'd like to live in while still inhabiting the present one, with all its flaws and injustices? We'll also examine the role of education in organizations working for social change. Whether through trainings, \"political education,\" reading groups, or small group activities associated with popular education, many of the social-movement groups we'll study have developed educational strategies and curricula. Hands-On Learning through Community Education: As we study these social movements and their approaches to organizing and educating in the comfortable confines of our university classroom, we'll also learn about them experientially through our service-learning. That is, we'll work 2 hours per week at local education initiatives in K-12 schools, adult programs, and social-justice organizations in the non-profit and grassroots sectors, comprising a total of 24 hours by the end of the semester. This hands-on learning will strengthen our academic grasp of social movements, organizational dynamics, and teaching and community organizing by providing us with grounded perspectives. More broadly, we'll get a feel for what it's like to get involved as citizens, activists, teachers, and learners attempting to build cross-organizational coalitions. And we'll share what we learn with each other. Representatives from the Center for Community-Engaged Learning (the U's service-learning office) and various community organizations will attend our second class session to tell you about their respective sites and how you can get involved. For our third class session, you will rank the top three community sites you'd like to work at. You will then be \"matched\" with a community organization, and your community education work will begin as soon as this matching process is complete. (We try to honor students' first and second choices, while also making sure that you also have some fellow classmates at your site.) To help prepare you, at a time convenient for you, you will also attend a training session facilitated by the Minnesota Literacy Council (MLC) or the Center for Community-Engaged Learning-- details will be provided in class.

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