On April 19th, the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation held a celebration for transformational learning and the scholar activist program at the downtown campus. The event, coordinated by Nikita Stange, AmeriCorps VISTA, was an opportunity for students and faculty to present the social justice work they have been doing in Chicago and beyond. From business to psychology and education to economics, students presented their research and service learning projects.
Nicole Comer, a teaching assistant for BAMD 398 described creating partnerships for Roosevelt students that will allow students to have social justice oriented internship opportunities in the Heller College of Business.
Heather Dalmage and two of her students, Amanda Warren and Greg Fuller, described their experiences at Morrill Elementary School. Their sociology class learned about restorative justice and participated in Peace Circles and student mentoring while fulfilling their transformational learning course requirement. Both Amanda and Greg both continued to volunteer at the school after their class was finished. Amanda said, “There is a huge difference between learning about injustice and actually seeing it.” Kristina Peterson also had students from her Clinical Mental Health Counseling Course at Morrill in Spring 2012, and Alfred DeFreece will have sociology students there in the Fall 2012. Leslie Bloom from the College of Education also had her students involved with school disciplinary practices. Through the scholar activist program, she and her students examined how community organizations implement restorative justice programs in the Chicago Public Schools. They were able to prepare a report that their community organization partners (COFI) can use in the future to secure funding.
Also in the realm of education, Tammy Oberg De La Garza used transformational learning and partnered with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Her students mentored Latino students and implemented “best practice” instructional methodologies. Her students created videos that highlighted their experiences working with children.
Peter Lee, Corrie Harris, and Nicole Farr described how they learned about the issues behind the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, from the perspective of business and stock traders to individuals working with the Occupy group. They expressed enthusiasm at having had a chance to better understand an issue they knew little about and found the experience rewarding.
Joseph Bulter and Alex Atkins presented on their work with the Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN) where they assisted boys in North Lawndale. Through their work, they were able to make connections with the young men with the hopes of preparing them to become leaders.
Students from Lisa Lu’s PSYC 310 course described their experiences trying to teach neuroscience to middle school students. They expressed initial nervousness about being the leader in the classroom, but found the experience rewarding, especially since they were able to all work together towards one common goal: to deliver a science lesson. The students were successful in their presentations as the school remarked that they loved having the Roosevelt students there.
Katie Copenhaver’s LIBS 201 class worked with nonprofits in helping build communication and marketing materials. They conducted organizational assessments that allowed them to better understand the partner organizations. One group worked with the Mansfield Institute to help categorize their social justice related materials. Terry Pernell remarked that the experience taught him that at RU “we actually practice social justice not just preach it.” Through their research and subsequent reports, students not only provided valuable help to the organizations but also strengthened their writing and research skills.