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Exciting Summer Course! CHID 480: Utopian Visions for Social Change

Submitted by Phillip S Thurtle on May 8, 2011 - 7:39am

This summer, join a learning community animated by an exploration about how the idea of "utopia" can serve as a practical tool and catalyst for transformative social change!

CHID 480A: Utopian Visions for Social Change
Instructor: Tamara Myers
SLN: 10665 Summer Course
Full Term M&W 2:20-4:30 5 credits :: Counts as a 'Gateway' Course

What does imagination have to do with the pursuit of social justice? What methods are activists using in communities and social movements to identify and articulate their visions of more democratic, just,  sustainable, healthy communities? How can envisioning change enable us to better pursue the world(s) we desire?

This course takes a joyful, creative, and proactive approach to the serious and challenging work of envisioning the world we seek as individuals, communities, and movements committed to liberation and justice. We'll engage theoretical and popular texts about the promises and pitfalls of utopian thinking. We'll draw on activist traditions ranging from anarchist, feminist, and racial justice movements (among others) to ask about different conceptions of radical change. We'll explore utopian science fiction and fantasy novels, visit local and distant intentional communities, and examine local and distant activist projects as case studies. We'll hear from many guests involved in communities,  organizing, and activism whose efforts are inspired by radical visions of change. We'll engage in a wide range of creative inside and out-of-class methods (visual arts, music, theater, dance, utopian fiction, parades!) to tap into and explore our own individual and collective dreams of social change about a healthier world.

Although we'll be dreaming big, our educational work together will be supported by an ethos of experimentation aimed at cultivating spaces for resistance and reconstruction in the here and now.

(And...we'll have lots and lots of potlucks!)

A little background about my interest in the course's topic: The focus of my graduate work is education for social justice. I look at the ways people try to teach for social justice in different kinds of settings, including in traditional schools (like the UW) and classrooms (like our course), community-based settings (like the housing cooperatives I have lived in and currently live in), and in the context of social movements (like the anarchist, feminist, and racial justice movements I consider myself part of). My dissertation focuses on the importance of imagination for social justice activists/movements and explores how educators and activists help nurture visions of social change in a variety of classroom, community, and movement-based learning communities. Teaching and my own academic work are one facet of my life, but my activism outside the university and my own relationship to the issues we'll explore together are essential to how I teach and learn in the university.

I'm thrilled about the opportunity to facilitate this course again and look forward to learning what a new constellation of students will bring to these topics. If you'd like to be connected with students who took the course this winter to learn about their perspective, let me know - I can help that happen!

Sound interesting? Join us!

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