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Community-based Learning Project

Power and Imagination * Spring 2015 * Fisher/Burgoyne *

For this community-based learning project, your team will explore how individuals and communities create social
change in response to a specific issue happening today. Your aim is employ various modes of research to analyze
how one global movement and one local movement/community group are attempting collective, effective action
in response to the issue you choose. (For your global movement, you can choose a single country or international
region or a single global-focused organization to focus on.) At the end of the term, your team will have 20 minutes to
teach the class about your topic and findings, and you will submit a team-written essay. (You should create a thesis for
both your teaching session and the essay.)
Learning objectives for this project include (but are not limited to):

Reflect on the role of diverse individuals and groups in issues of power and social responsibility, and on
your own perceptions about and involvement in these issues.

Collaborate with peers to collect, analyze, and interpret information and express the results using several
communication methods (oral, written, quantitative, and graphical).

Integrate course studies into direct, concrete experiences through field observation and research.

Make an organized effort to actively listen to and understand different perspectives regarding power and
social change, such as government institutions, community activists, and affected individuals. Also consider
critically your own perspective as an outsider.
Core research questions: The objective of your research (including interviews and/or direct engagement with
activist change) is to determine the scope of and provide context for groups’ approaches to creating social change.
That scope includes historical context and statistical/census materials. The core questions to help guide your
project are:
1) What has been the general history of the issue? How has the status quo been maintained, and what has
been society’s response to efforts for change? What’s a global/national angle on the problem? What’s a
corresponding local angle?
2) What powers (especially institutions) will need to be persuaded to change? (political, economic, cultural,
etc.). Is there a key belief or ideology upon which the current dominant power structure is based (here
think about our first term readings on the social construction of reality)?
3) What tactics do advocates use to try to create change? What makes them effective or not?
4) How does your group’s research demonstrate the various ideas about power and imagination we have
explored in our studies over the entire year? In other words, how does your research show real life
examples of ideas we’ve studied? What new ideas about power has your research raised for your team?
5) What are the ethical concerns associated with this issue? What personal and social responsibilities does
your research suggest that we need to consider?

Assignment sequence:
The assignments for this project are as follows, and will be introduced throughout the term. All assignments are to
be completed as a team, except those with an asterisk (*), which you will complete individually. (Note: there may
be some additional mentor session exercises related to these):
a) Create a team contract that addresses potential problems that might develop
b) Brainstorm and select topic (some preliminary research may be required)
c) Pre-reflection (with topic included)*: In 1.5-2 pages, double-spaced, reflect on what you already know
about this topic, what about it interests you, what questions you have about the social issue and groups
that are addressing the issue, and your initial thoughts about how to connect the topic to our discussions
and readings this year; post to D2L dropbox, week 5 module, by midnight on the night of 4/28
d) Prospectus (2-3, double spaced pages): explain topic focus, research questions, and hypothesize possible
answers; post to D2L dropbox, week 5 module, by midnight on the night of 5/5
e) Annotated Bibliography of Research (qualitative and quantitative); post to D2L dropbox, week 5
module, by midnight on the night of 5/12
This bibliography should include:
a. Scholarly research: what authoritative experts know about the issue, causes, solutions, etc.
b. Media watch: what the media communicates about the issue, causes, solutions, etc. Looks at
different forms of media, too: broadcast, newspapers, maybe even popular culture such as ads.
Include “mainstream” media as well as religious, political, or other specialized media as
c. Quantitative analysis: what statistics and other quantitative data reveal, and as applicable, any
cautions or limitations to the use of statistics to understand the issue and solutions.
d. Activist Interviews and/or Involvement: current perspectives on local dimensions; this can be
interviews or direct community engagement. (We will connect you with resources to help you
prepare for this aspect of the assignment.)
f) In-class Presentations/Teaching Session, 6/2 and 6/4; in planning this presentation please leave three
minutes min. for questions/interaction with the rest of the class at some point in your 20-minute session.
g) Team Process Analysis/Post-reflection (2 pages, double-spaced)*; Reflect on what you learned from
working on this assignment. Have your perceptions of the social issue changed or remained the same?
Why? And offer your observations about how well your group collaborated, apportioned and followed
through with responsibilities, and presented information to the class. What was successful and what
would you do differently next time? Make sure you pay close attention to your own role in the project—
what you contributed, how well you collaborated, etc. Post the process analysis to D2L dropbox, week 10
module, after your group presentation, but no later than midnight on 6/5
h) Final Essay, 5 double-spaced pages, post to D2L dropbox, week 10 module, before mentor session on
the day of your group presentation

An important final word on the teaching session: You final teaching session should be informative, but also
engaging. Your aim is to help the class understand your subject, so a long PowerPoint isn’t necessarily your best
option. You can incorporate film-clips, discussion techniques, exercises, art, or any other medium that you find
appropriate to both your topic and your aim of helping us all understand what you have learned. Use your
creativity to be effective.
Assessment: To be determined with your feedback, after teams turn in their prospectus.