2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Making a Difference


Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 quarters

Emily Lardner composition, education, literature , Gillies Malnarich sociology, education
Fields of Study
education, sociology and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
education, law, community development, journalism

How, in the context of overwhelming social and environmental problems, do people make a difference? Where do people start, what do they need to be successful, and what does “making a difference” actually look like? The purpose of this two quarter program is to help students develop their understanding of how social change happens, to consider the possibility that Paulo Freire's notion of “critical hope” is reasonable, and to develop a deeper appreciation for an education that supports the development of habits of mind and everyday practices necessary to make a difference.

In winter quarter, students will ground their studies of how social change happens in contemporary contexts. Drawing on insights gained from their studies of Silent Spring and the Citizenship Schools, students will develop a critical framework for analyzing and organizing approaches to topics that emerge from shared reading, from current social issues, and from students’ own experiences and interests.  Students will be working in groups to develop intensive case studies based on the program’s core questions. Likely areas for these cases include the pursuit of human rights, local responses to climate change/sea level rise, local organizing around sustainable food systems, and local and statewide efforts to provide an education of quality for students at all levels.

Building on a practice started in fall quarter, the program will host a series of community conversations tied to the case studies. Students will be able to discuss core questions with community leaders—how they decide which issues to work on, which tools and strategies are most useful in that work, and the effect they hope to have on the community. We will consider critical puzzles and possibilities. Time in class is considered work time —a chance to pursue ideas and develop skills with others through workshops, seminars, and intensive reading/writing and analytic exercises. Students in winter will also select an additional reading to pursue with others, and design a workshop for the program at large using principles of popular education. Throughout our work together, students will have opportunities to develop their own perspectives on what is needed to make a difference in the contexts where they live and work.

Students pursuing the 12 credit option will choose between an internship option or an writing intensive option. Both options will entail additional out-of-class meetings with students and with faculty, including end of day Saturday and end of class Monday evenings, plus other times to be determined by schedule and location (i.e. a Seattle writing group might find a time that is mutually convenient for meeting).

Advertised Schedule
6-9:30p Mon, 9a-4:30p Sat (fall: Oct. 1, 15, 29, Nov. 19, Dec. 10; winter: Jan. 21, Feb. 4, 11, 25, Mar. 3, 17)
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Internship Possibilities
Students registering for 12 credits may choose to complete an in-program internship in an educational setting, an in-program internship with a non-profit or community-based organization, or an intensive writing component grounded in the practice of grassroots journalism.
Offered During
Evening and Weekend

Program Revisions

Date Revision
September 8th, 2011 Winter quarter date changed.
July 7th, 2011 Added in July 2011.