Teaching Collective Action: Strategies for Fostering Racial and Social Justice

Aaron Schutz (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 96
EISBN13: 9781668449233|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8463-7.ch004
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Universities teach students about social problems but provide few concrete tools for acting to promote social change. Teaching about challenges but not about possible solutions can be potentially disempowering and may reduce civic agency. This chapter discusses the development of a required class on community organizing and civil resistance that provides students with specific strategies for engaging in collective action. The author explores a range of tensions involved in teaching this class: making it experiential without forcing students to work on issues or take steps they might not agree with, providing multiple traditions of social action so they do not get the sense that there is one “right” way, working with students whose perspectives might differ from ones he sees as legitimate, and teaching a class that some outside the institution might see as beyond the purview of a university. Ultimately, he argues that it is incumbent upon universities to provide concrete skills for social action, because failing to do so restricts their capacity to become effective civic actors in our democracy.
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