The Power in Our Hands: Pathways to Social Change


Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters

Taught by

environmental studies, public policy
writing, journalism, sociology
environmental science, environmental health, aquatic ecology
law, political science
law, creative writing, literature
political economy
mathematics, 3-D modeling
sociology, cultural and media studies
biology, Chinese cultural studies, molecular pharmacology

This year’s program is designed to help students explore the history of how working hands have built the material world around us and shaped the environment, which in turn has molded our own consciousness. Realizing the capacity of working hands and the possible dual relationship between our hands with our mind is the critical first step toward empowerment of the working majority and potential social transformation.

Arguably, all human expressions of intelligence both in art/craft and the written/spoken word are rooted in the hands. We will examine the theories and practices in humanities, social sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, media and technology that simultaneously represent and influence works by the hands of individuals, groups and organizations to change our society and environment locally, nationally and globally throughout the ages. For example, hands of different genders, races and social affiliations, hands that cradle, cook, weed, maneuver, calculate, experiment, film, draw, write and type will all be possible study subjects. Metaphors originated from hands, such as feel one’s way, to grasp the meaning, the right touch vs. heavy-handed, to be in touch vs. out of touch, and handling it right vs. wrong, as well as in one’s hand vs. out of one’s hand just begin to inform us how important our hands are in our consciousness. Hand gestures that solidify social bonding, express trust and admiration, and symbolize social contract are the beginning toward building social capital and cohesive communities. 

Our coordinated studies program consists of two major components: 1) whole campus yearlong lyceum/seminar where faculty and students will study the program theme from a broad multi-disciplined perspective, and 2) quarter long courses with a more focused approach. These courses will cover topical areas such as sociology, government, politics, education, math, law, public health, life science, media art, youth study, environment, community development, women's empowerment and political economy. The two components are linked through the program theme. In both components, we will pay particular attention to the “hands-on” style of learning through critical reflection and creative practices. Besides lyceum/seminar, a student will select two additional courses each quarter depending on career interest. The majority of the classes in the program are team-taught.

Fall quarter will lay the foundation for the rest of the year, both substantively and in terms of the tools necessary for students to operate effectively in the learning community.

During winter quarter, students will collaborate to investigate the characteristics and motivations of social entrepreneurs and develop action plans to promote social change.

In spring quarter, we will bridge the gap between theory (mind) and practice (hand) by carrying out an action plan developed during winter quarter.

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

community development, organizational development, law and public policy, education, social and human services, public administration, communication and media arts, environmental studies and public health.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day and Evening

Advertised schedule: All students attend Tuesdays and two additional days. A standard schedule consists of the core Lyceum course offered on Tuesdays (6 credits) and two 5-credit classes offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This program is offered day (10am-2pm) and evening (6pm-10pm).


Buy books for this program through The Greener Store.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$10 per quarter for entrance fees.

Special Expenses

Approximately $50-$100 per quarter for media, lab and/or storage supplies.


Date Revision
September 11th, 2014 Peter Boom has joined the teaching team; Arlen Speights is teaching Making Meaning Matter in Olympia.
July 1st, 2014 Fees and special expenses updated.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 200


Course Reference Numbers

Day (16 credits): 10170
Day (1-16 credits): 10171
Evening (16 credits): 10172
Evening (1-16 credits): 10173

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Course Reference Numbers

Day (16 credits): 20092
Day (1-16 credits): 20093
Evening (16 credits): 20094
Evening (1-16 credits): 20095

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Course Reference Numbers

Day (16 credits): 30069
Day (1-16 credits): 30070
Evening (16 credits): 30071
Evening (1-16 credits): 30072

Go to to register for this program.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.