Diversity, Community & Service

April 7, 2015

REQUIRED TEXTS (available at PC Bookstore)
Margaret L. Andersen & Patricia Hill Collins, eds. Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology.
Charles Taylor, et al. Multiculturalism.
…and other readings to be provided in class.

One of the core requirements for Public Service majors and minors, this course is offered for the first time this spring. As such, I will be experimenting with format, reading materials, and assignments. You will have as much to say about the final form this course takes as this syllabus– to borrow (sort of) my colleagues’ words, this will not be a “virtual syllabus,” but ‘virtually a syllabus!”
One thing is certain: with the communities we work in and the partners we work with, you will learn more about “diversity” and “multiculturalism” from concrete community involvement than from diverse texts, however good. So I have decided to make the course project-based, with most of the leaming coming from the following projects, from which you will choose on the first day of class. The names given to these projects are arbitrary (and somewhat hokey); each team will have some responsibility for renaming them in line with what you ultimately do over the course of the semester.

* “The Arts, Me, and My Culture”—Camden Avenue School, Providence. Camden
Avenue Elementary School is located in the Smith Hill section of Providence. It enrolls aproximately 750 children, grades K-6. The project for the students in this class will be to create, in conjunction with Kindergarten teacher Maria Iasomone, an after-school program, meeting Wednesdays from 2:45-4:00. Camden Avenue students (and for some sessions, their families) will be invited to work together on a variety of artistic projects or expressions of their particular cultures, and to share them with each other. Students will assist in the planning of each week’s program as well as work with the students each Wednesday. While the ‘final product” of the program is to be determined, the teacher and other school officials have spoken about holding some kind of event near the end of PC’s semester, to highlight all of the after/before-school programs being initiated this year. Students will begin meeting with Ms. lasomone the week of January 22 (for orientation & planning), with the after-school program targeted to begin February 7.

* “It Takes a Village … and a Bridge”–Elizabeth Baldwin School/Ponte Center,
Last semester, PC elementary education majors helped establish and staff an after- school program at the Elizabeth Baldwin Elementary School in Pawtucket. This semester we seek to expand the after-school program, which last term was largely a homework-assistance effort. The team working at Baldwin will work with the children (and perhaps their families) to define a project that expresses the cultural diversity of the school’s community. The after-school program runs from 2:45-4 M-Th, and students will spend the first few weeks working in small teams, in conjunction with Susan Hammond, the graduate student assisting on site. Once cultura activities or projects are defined, students will work accordingly to completion.

* “Empowering the Disenfranchised”–Smith Hill Neighborhood Congress.
Two years ago, in the very first pilot course of the Feinstein Institute, a team of students assisted the Smith Hill Center in organizing a neighborhood congress. The event itself, and the months of organizing that preceded it were a limited success. Community Organizer Tom Twitchell and I have envisioned a somewhat different project this semester. While the end product may be the same, a Neighborhood Congress in early May, the project itself will focus on the student team identifying those “disenfranchised” in the neighborhood, and will plan a series of events designed to excite and involve community residents in public discussions and issues, leading up to the goal of gathering all residents together for a congress aimed at setting the political agenda, from the grass-roots, into the next century. Of the three, this project is the least defined, but offers the most flexibility and opportunity for student creation and ownership.

As I said, leaming about diversity and how we work with/through it will come largely through the three projects. Student teams will be asked to present to the rest of us the “fruits” (and problems) of their work at various times throughout the semester, culminating in a final presentation the last week of class. I will provide a template for each “interim report,” so that all can learn from and contribute to each group’s project.

All of this is negotiable, as I have not thought through all of the implications of these components of your grade. The reasoning behind the components is that 1) I want the evaluation/reward structure to reflect my desire that you learn through the projects; and 2) 1 am sensitive to concerns expressed in the past that students typically feel too pressured at the end of the semester in my classes, which tend to be “backloaded” in assignment/grading.

* Projects.
Cumulatively worth 40% of your grade. You will have four assignments related to the projects you will be working on: three group-based and one individual. For the individual assignment, I want you to keep a log/journal of your work and impressions or analysis that you make about it on a weekly (or every event) basis. The logs/joumals will be turned in at the time of each of your project presentations listed in the course outline. The logs will be graded full credit/no credit-you will either receive an A or an F for this quarter of the project grade, depending on whether you have done the entries as required. The group part will be the presentations, which will contain both an oral and a written component. I will be handing out a “template” or ‘model” that will frame each presentation, and you will be asked in your groups to prepare your class presentation, respond to student questions or suggestions, and then hand in a written group narrative that reflects your initial presentation and responses to the class itself.

* Thematic Critical Analyses (3).
Worth 30% of your grade. After each major section of the course (“Representations”, “Understanding”, “Policy & Change,” you will be asked to write a relatively compact (5-7 pages) critical analysis of the readings, discussions, experiences-tying in your project where appropriate-that most resonated with you and helped you in your own understanding of diversity and community. Each one will be due about one week following the last session dealing with that theme (for example, under the current course outline schedule, the ‘Representations” paper/reflection will be due the week of February 27). I may or may not provide some questions or ideas that will help you in structuring your written reflections.

* Class Participation.
Worth 30% of your final grade. As I have done in the past, I will ask you to submit a self-evaluation at the end of the semester to assist me in arriving at this component of your grade. At the very least, this part of your grade will be based on your preparation, attendance, and engagement in class sessions. But one piece of this is non-negotiable: I will look unfavorably at any nonattendance during other groups’ (or of course, your own group’s) project presentations-your communal responsibilities to each other are most important!!

Jan 18……………………Introduction to the Course; Project Selection
Jan 23……………………Cutural Identities/Cultural Homes
‘Home is where I want to be but I guess I’m already there… I can’t tell one from another/Did I find you or you find me? there was a time/Before we were born If someone asks\This is where I’ll be…where I’ll be”

“Our pride in our own cultural identities is not an end in itself, but the home from which we travel in order to meet others. I must move from leaming the story of my grandfather and grandmother to learning the story of other families. My orthodoxies are not a single truth for others to swallow, but a perspective for their use.”

“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit…”

Jan 25…………………Demographic Representations: Smith Hill; RI Kids Count Readings: handouts
‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, standing hysterical naked”
“People say it doesn’t exist/ ‘Cause no one would like to admit
That there is a city underground/ Where people live everyday
Off the waste and decay/ Off the discards of their fellow man (sic)”

Jan 30…………………In Living Colour: Race & Ethnicity Narrated and Complicated
Feb. 1, 6 ………………
Readings: Madrid (#1, pp. 10-15), Moraga (#2, pp. 15-22), Takaki (#6, pp. 41-52), McIntosh (#8, pp. 76-87), Marable (#37, pp. 363-65),Churchill (#38, pp.366-373), Anderson (#50, pp. 456-61), Ungar,”Manipulated by History: the Hmong,” (handout), Rodriguez,Days of Obligation (selections, handout)

“I saw a white man who walked a black dog”
“I, too, sin,- America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me\To eat in the kitchen/When company comes,
But I laugh/And eat well/And grow strong.
I’ll sit at the table/When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare/Say to me,”Eat in the kitchen

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