Developing Social Justice Ambassadors
A Peacemaking Project by Ashley L.
What is the injustice we are solving?
At our university, we noticed that the administration has cut community organizing and prioritized research-based courses, due to budgeting and an emphasis on research. In our higher education context, students have little access to courses where they can focus on community projects that improve equity in their communities. This is problematic because, within an already inequitable society, students often do not have the resources to help them organize and reflect on their work in their communities. At our university, UC Berkeley, we discovered a lack of courses that help students analyze and address social issues in their communities. To address this issue, I took the initiative to teach a community organizing course that enables passionate students to actualize their dreams for social change. With my course, I inform students that social justice education extends beyond the classroom. Students apply community organizing techniques that I taught to develop social entrepreneurial projects and address problems within their communities. My course leverages community organizing strategies from PeaceFirst, the norm life cycle, Activist Beyond Borders, and Harvard professor Marshall Ganz’ Self, Us, Now Narrative Framework. To solve the injustice of an inequitable society where social issues persist in our communities we will address the lack of courses equipping students with practical community organizing skills By teaching a course each semester where students can learn these skills and create their own community organizing projects that address social injustices in their communities Peace first mentorship and funds can help us improve our work and design ways to showcase students’ work.
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of an inequitable society where social issues persist in our communities
we will address the lack of courses equipping students with practical community organizing skills
by teaching a course each semester where students can learn these skills and create their own community organizing projects that address social injustices in their communities.
Our Project Plan:
- We will improve student learning by using new technologies. We will start by using an iPad to pilot exploratory strategies and conduct research investigating the effectiveness of our use of technology in the classroom.
- We will investigate the following research question: How does the use of new technologies (online group activities, polls, project platforms) in the classroom improve student learning compared to a traditional classroom without these new technologies?
- Our goal is to begin the pilot program by April 23rd.
- We will conduct research investigating the effectiveness our pilot program of using the technology in the classroom. In order to do this, we will collect data by conducting surveys and interviews of the students and instructors.
- We will provide consenting interviewees with incentives in the form of gift cards. Our goal is to begin interviews and surveys by April 23rd and complete them by May 31st.
We will increase my / our compassion by...
reflecting on our own experiences as students and as people in the face of inequity as a result of our intersectional identities. By relating our experiences and our privileges to those of our students, and encouraging our fellow instructors to do the same, we will be able to engage in productive and meaningful conversations about the importance of our cause: increasing access to community-organizing skills to our students. We will develop a personal connection to our cause and use our experiences in the classroom to brainstorm, draft, and refine effective pedagogical strategies to increase student success. Our pedagogical strategies will use new technology to increase student collaboration and engagement during the class period. We will use this technology to continuously allow students to evaluate the effectiveness of our strategies, and use this feedback to adapt our instruction.
How will you show courage?
Through our pilot program, we will be observing students and recording data through surveys, assessments, and interviews to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of technology in the education of community-organizing strategies. Through the data collection process, instructors of the course may find that the strategies initially implemented in the class are not effective or only effective to a subset of students instead of all students. We will show courage and resilience by using our data, particularly surveys and interviews, to collaborate with students to implement different and more effective strategies to better teach these strategies and support our students. We will not take these indications that our pilot program was ineffective as a defeat, but rather as an opportunity to improve upon our instruction and our incorporation of technology in the classroom. The data will provide us with an opportunity to better meet our students' needs in the classroom. Instructors will also encourage students to show the courage to work with instructors to address inefficiencies in the pedagogical process, as well as the courage to utilize the strategies gained and practiced in class to settings external to the classroom to address human rights issues.
How will you collaborate with others?
We will use these new modes of technologies to collaborate with peers and instructors within the class itself, as well as outside organizations and resources that work to address human rights issues. We have already collaborated with external resources, and my course leverages community organizing strategies from PeaceFirst, the norm life cycle, Activist Beyond Borders, and Harvard professor Marshall Ganz’ Self, Us, Now Narrative Framework. We are currently broadening our collaboration with outside organizations to include student-run organizations on the UC Berkeley campus such as American Red Cross at Cal, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Amnesty International, Public Service Center, BUILD, Bridging Berkeley, Gender Equity Resource Center, Educational Opportunity Program, Underground Scholars Initiative, Cal Berkeley Habitat for Humanity, 100 Strong, Project Rishi, Students for a Free Tibet, Bears for Elder Welfare, Berkeley Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Berkeley Project, SPLASH! at Cal, Peace Corps at Cal, Zero Waste by 2020, RAZA Recruitment and Retention Center, and REACH! Recruitment and Retention Center. These organizations act as consultants, advisors, and informational resources in the development of our curriculum for our community-organizing course, and will continue to advise our instructional strategies while we run our pilot program using new technologies.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
We will begin the implementation of our new teaching strategies using technology to conduct research on our pilot program and collect data on the effectiveness of these technologies in the education of community-organizing strategies. We are moving in the right direction of improving our pedagogical strategies through the use of technology because the data we collect will be used to promote awareness and action in regards to human rights issues as well as to support students in building and practicing community-organizing strategies. We will use data we collect from students and instructors through surveys, assessments, and interviews to evaluate whether the incorporation of technology in the classroom using our teaching strategies increased student success. This evaluation will lead us to decide whether we are moving in the right direction, and as such should begin applying for funding to scale our pilot program and purchase more iPads to implement our teaching strategies. We will also use our data to determine what other directions we could take with our pilot program to better support students in our class in equipping them with community-organizing strategies.
- Draft a pilot program using new technologies in our community organizing course by April 13th. We have already begun this process and have drafted strategies for online mini-quizzes, real-time surveys, and platforms to plan community-organizing events.
- Upload and set up our strategies on an iPad and prepare for use by April 17th.
- Test the new teaching strategies using the iPad in an instructor setting on April 18th and make final edits to the features by April 20th.
- Begin implementation of new teaching strategies set up on an iPad in our community-organizing course on April 23rd.
- Begin collecting data on student satisfaction and academic improvement and through surveys, assessments, and interviews of students and instructors on April 23rd and continue until May 31st.
- Use gift cards as incentives for consenting students and instructors to participate in interviews and surveys.
- Use student and instructor data to evaluate the success of the teaching strategies using new technology. Use this information to decide whether to apply for funding to scale our use of iPads and teaching strategies in our course.
6 March 2018 11:21
A member of the team will give formal feedback on your insight soon, but I love your theory that making sure access to community organizing training is widespread will enable people to better challenge and resolve social issues.
I'm wondering if there is a way you could leverage the training you're already doing to advocate for more resources for these types of courses at UC Berkeley?
Really, really psyched about the work you're doing. How can we help?
9 March 2018 12:16
For your solution - "To solve this injustice of an inequitable society where social issues persist in our communities we will address the lack of courses equipping students with practical community organizing skills by teaching a course each semester where students can learn these skills and create their own community organizing projects that address social injustices in their communities" one thing I would encourage you to do is to further explore the root cause of this problem. Why are the classes that help students to do grassroots organizing being cut over other classes? What is the university's perception of community organizing that makes it seem less essential than other courses? I think digging into those questions will help unearth insights that can help you not only continue to do your work as an educator and organizer for students today, but also help to solve the bigger investment issues that impact students (and communities) in the future. One of the core tenets of Peace First is crossing lines of difference and I think asking these questions can help provide deeper insights into the problem that can continue to help you solve this injustice on multiple levels.
This is great work and excited to see it come to life. We are here to help.
26 March 2018 12:57
We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for a mini-grant of up to $250.
The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.
As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan: https://www.peacefirst.org/plan-your-project
Then, through your dashboard, you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.
Let us know if you have questions. We're looking forward to supporting your project!