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Social Justice in Action

Supported by grants from the McCormick Foundation, here are a few examples of transformational learning in progress:

Posted: 05/16/2012

Latin America to Independence

(HIST 315), covering early Latin American history. Taught by Assistant Professor of History Fabricio Prado in partnership with La Casita Parents Association, course work has included teaching in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. “We helped kids with their homework and gave them fun facts about Latin America,” said undergraduate Janet Rosas, who took the course last fall. “I was surprised how little some of them knew about their heritage and I was proud as a Latina to share what I learned with them,” she said. Rosas went on to become Prado’s teaching assistant, organizing field work done in Pilsen this semester by students taking Readings in Latin American History.

Human Neuropsychology

(PSYC 350), which studies the relationship between the brain and behavior. Taught by Assistant Professor of Psychology Lisa Lu, the course requires students to assist brain-injured people with daily tasks. Last fall, students volunteered at the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse, Alden Park Rehabilitation Center and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “My students have helped people work on computers, read a newspaper or simply clarify their thoughts,” said Lu. “The experience empowers those who need help and it gets students to better appreciate the course content.”

Teaching Reading in Elementary School

(READ 320), which trains preservice teachers how to teach reading. Taught by Assistant Professor of Elementary Education Tammy Oberg De La Garza in partnership with Chicago’s Logan Square Neighborhood Association, the course aims to improve Latino literacy, pairing Roosevelt students as after-school tutors with small groups of kids at McAuliffe Elementary School. (See related story, page 36 in paper copy.) To learn more about the experiences of Oberg De La Garza’s students, digital stories are available at here.

Writing Social Justice

(LIBS 201), a required undergraduate composition course. In one section, taught by Instructor Jan Bone, students interviewed suburban police chiefs, psychologists, women’s shelter counselors and others last semester for stories posted on the Northwest Suburban Alliance on Domestic Violence site at “I knew the Schaumburg Campus was having a community meeting on domestic violence and I wanted to help,” said Bone. She is now teaching the writing course in partnership with CEDA Northwest, a resource students are using to research and write about the need for affordable housing in the suburbs.

Service and Sustainability

(SUST 350), which focuses on urban farming and community development. Taught by Associate Professor of Humanities Michael Bryson in conjunction with the not-for-profit Chicago Lights, the course gives Sustainability Studies majors experience in preparing an urban farm for the growing season with help from area youth. It’s a first for Bryson, a veteran Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies professor who is new to transformational learning. “I always had it in the back of my mind to try it, and I think the time is right this semester,” he said.