Grassroots Community Organizing
APPLY! GCO 2014 Application.
Curricular Alternative Spring Break at UMass is an integral part of the Honors Course, Grassroots Community Organizing (Anthropology 397H). Each spring we study grassroots development and organizing, that is, the ways that communities use local knowledge and other local assets to combat poverty and political disenfranchisement. During our spring break we travel to communities to work side by side with members of a grassroots organization (see our Partnerships page for more information about our current and past partners). During that week we live in close quarters, work hard, engage in much mutual teaching and learning, and have the opportunity to engage in meaningful collaboration with a community that is often very different from our own.
GCO students claim that the experience is one of the most intense, most meaningful, and most transformative of their UMass career. The grassroots classroom is a unique experience in which students assume responsibility for their own learning and are assisted by student facilitators who have previously completed the course. Enrollment in GCO is by application only; applications for Spring 2013 are due November 18th!
This year, UACT is offering a new track of GCO entitled "Sustainability & Environmental Justice (SEJ)." In SEJ, students will be asked to think critically about how our world has been not only ecologically, but socially, and economically unsustainable. Through case studies students will uncover how ecological degradation impacts marginalized groups of people disproportionately and in what ways our economic system serves as the engine for environmental injustice and future catastrophic climate change. They will also learn about and engage with social justice work to explore how communities regionally have built power through organizing to start building a just and sustainable future for all.
APPLY! GCO 2014 Application.
Questions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.
Train to Facilitate:
Critical Pedagogy, and Leadership and Activism
Another avenue for alumni of GCO to remain involved in the work of UACT is by becoming a student facilitator. Alumni of the GCO course may apply, in the spring, to be student facilitators for the course the following year. This year-long commitment is comprised of two courses: Critical Pedagogy (Anthro 397W) in the fall and Leadership & Activism (Anthro 397L) in the spring. In addition student facilitators also participate in committee work and UACT All-body (the coordinating organization of UACT) throughout the year. Enrollment in these courses is by application only and students must be alumni of GCO.
Applications to facilitate in 2013-2014 will be available in April 2013. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.
This course introduces students to the theory and the practice of what is referred to as critical, engaged or radical pedagogy; a pedagogy that is holistic, experiential, relational and libratory. In the words of radical educator bell hooks, engaged pedagogy moves us to “share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students” and to “teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students.” The course thus aims to introduce participants to an approach to teaching and learning that is far more than the transmission and mastery of content (what popular educator Paulo Freire calls the banking model of education). The aim of critical teaching/learning is to promote the practice of freedom, liberation, justice and community.
The primary goal of this course is to prepare students to assume leadership of a section of Anthropology 397H – Grassroots Community Organizing (GCO). While the aim of this course sequence is to promote effective praxis in the classroom and at our field sites during ASB, the primary goal in this term is to establish the theoretical foundations of our own process of critical/engaged pedagogy. Students must be alumni of GCO to enroll in this course AND also commit to taking Leadership & Activism.
Leadership & Activism
Leadership & Activism is a continuation of the facilitation training that began in Critical Pedagogy, but focuses specifically on the teaching that is occurring simultaneously in the GCO classroom. Thus, students in this class apply pedagogical methods they’ve learned/are continuing to learn to the specific classes they are teaching, as well as debrief and problem solve issues that come up in their classrooms. Students must be alumni of GCO and Critical Pedagogy to enroll in this course.