Spring 2019 Courses in Civic Engagement, Social Change, and the Study of Public Life

Looking for interdisciplinary classes that think outside the box? Want to go beyond theory and understand how academic concepts apply in real-world settings? Take a class with the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life!

Following are courses that currently have seats available for Spring 2019. You can see all CSPL courses here, and you can check out all Service-Learning courses for Spring 2019 here.

CSPL 206 Group Psychology in Politics: Local, State, and National Perspectives
Dan Drew
F 1:20-4:10pm

This course is an introduction to the use of group dynamics to understand the deep personal and systems-level issues at play in the body politic. This framework is applicable at the local, state, national, and international levels. Often, if not most of the time, these issues play an outsized role in any public policy initiative, debate, vote, action, deliberation, and discourse–though they are rarely acknowledged. This class will examine group dynamics as it is practiced in the field of organizational development (OD), a branch of organizational psychology used to implement cultural changes across social systems. The application of OD to politics is not widespread, but its tools are useful in understanding the dynamics in political situations and in the understanding of how power is exercised. The course will introduce concepts in open systems theory and will introduce three models to “hold the data” in our case studies: the Burke-Litwin Model, BART, and GRPI.

CSPL 266 Youth, Power, and Social Change
Laura McCargar
W 2:50-4:10pm

While young people have been at the helm of movements for social and racial justice throughout history, the 1990s saw the rise of youth organizing as an intentional strategy for transforming youth, communities, and the broader social and political structures and institutions that shape their lives. This course will examine the evolution of youth organizing and the ways in which it has disrupted the dominant narratives and traditional methods of youth learning and engagement at play in schools and youth service organizations. The course will explore the politics of power and identity in youth work, and the role and impact of current youth-led social change movements – from #blacklivesmatter to the work of Dreamers – in today’s political climate. Please note that this course will require students to reflect on and contextualize readings and class discussion with their own lived experience and is therefore especially relevant for students that are engaged in community service, organizing and/or youth work.

CSPL 332 Just Cities: Architectures of Public Encounter
M. Surrey Schlabs
T 1:20-4:10pm

What is “the public,” and how has it been conceived, relative to notions of the urban–to the web of ideas, forms, and fantasies constituting “the city”? Can art and architecture play a role in defining the public, or does the public’s political and social construction place it outside the scope of specifically aesthetic concerns? This course addresses these and other related questions, positioning art and architecture in their broader cultural and historical contexts. It explores a range of socially charged, experiential, and participatory aesthetic and political practices, characterized by their distinctly public character and decidedly architectural and urban settings. At its core, it is concerned with issues of social justice as they relate to the material spaces of the modern city, and the manner in which those spaces are identified, codified, and made operative in the service of aesthetic, social, and political experience.

EDST 310 Practicum in Education Studies
Amy Grillo
T 7:10-10:00pm

This seminar is intended to help students develop the skills to learn from experience in educational settings, through rigorous reflection, analysis, scholarly inquiry into educational questions, and action/implementation of new ideas. It is designed for students with previous coursework in education, experience in educational settings, or both. Students will be placed in a variety of educational settings in the community and each student will craft an independent study, with ongoing guidance from the professor and from the group, related to their placement. Class sessions will be seminar-style with students sharing and workshopping their studies and their practice. There will be group readings on aspects of education studies including reflective practice, classroom ethnography/teacher research, and observational techniques, but students will also develop individualized reading lists according to the focus of their independent study. In addition to ongoing written work in the form of analytic journals and critical reading synopses, students will complete an individualized final paper or project integrating their research and experience over the semester, and give a final presentation.

EDST 140L/WRTC 140L Teaching English as a Second Language 
Elizabeth Hepford   
MW 8:50 – 9:40 and F 9:50 – 10:40

This course explores theories and teaching methods related to learning English as a second language (ESL). Students will critically examine current and past “best practices” for teaching ESL and the seminal theories they are based on. In addition, we will discuss the various needs of English language learners coming from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, at varying levels and varying ages. As a service-learning course, students will have the opportunity to actively work with ESL students at the Woodrow Wilson Middle School. They will be asked to apply the theories and pedagogical techniques they are learning to their sessions at the school and reflect on their experience. As part of the class, students will critique ESL textbooks, give teaching demonstrations, and develop an activities resource book for all of the ESL tutors. For the midterm and final papers, students will develop a set of lesson plans and defend their decisions based on second language acquisition theory. This course fulfills the Category 5 requirement in the Education Minor.