Teaching Toward Activism

“Can we build courses with dissent as their goal, to incorporate structures of opposition such that completing a class leads to defiance?” — Opening to “Teaching Toward Activism, Hybrid Pedagogy, June 15, 2018

“Resist. Reconceptualize. Repair. Nothing better than to begin our day 02 of #CritPrax with reflecting on guidelines for the ethical development of an online course AND raising questions of its complicity in the neoliberal academic project. #DHSI18 #OurDhIs #RaceDh #AnticolonialDh” — my tweet, June 12, 2018

As part of our #DHSI18 “Critical Pedagogy and Digital Praxis in the Humanities” course, my classmates and I developed an online resource to inform the practices of collaborative “teaching toward activism.” Led by Dr. Chris Friend (Assistant Professor of English in the Department of Language Studies and the Arts at Saint Leo University), this weeklong seminar examined the social and political dimensions of digital pedagogy grounded in the Frierian notion of praxis and directed towards building community in and through diverse learning environments. Specifically, and intentionally, we took on questions of race, social justice, and DH from DHSI’s week 01 to rethink the colonial histories of teaching and learning practices in and with the digital. Building upon these conversations; our in-class engagements with the writings of Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Paulo Friere, Jesse Stommel, and Cathy N. Davidson; and FemTechNet’s alternative to MOOCs, we created a meta-MOOC to help educators and institutions create sites of resistance and offer students an experimental space to make plans and take action.

“Teaching toward activism” serves as a heuristic and set of actionable steps for folx committed to place-based and community-oriented justice work. This resource outlines approaches that could be adopted and adapted for honing the agentic capacity of learners across professional roles.

My collaborators and I,* in particular, developed the “application” component of this course to provide a focused and practical view of how critical engagement and community-building might be realized in the context of an online course. We asked: “how is it possible to bring online participants together as a community organized around the principles of mutual understanding and empathy? What tools and approaches may be used to ensure that course participants develop critical thinking skills by responding to and exploring material through multiple points of view? How may students be taught the constructedness of their values and understanding of themselves and of the world? Through which means would the instructor be able to guide participants to develop awareness of diverse and compounded manifestations of privilege as well as the ways in which those intersections impact individual and collective instances of oppression? And how can an online course translate into and invite forms of community engagement?”

To learn more about this project and explore its various components, please visit: http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/dhsi2018/

Special thanks to Rosa Rivera Furumoto, Helena Maragou, and undergraduates Quetzalli Enrique, and Enrique Ramirez Jr for this collaboration.