SOAN 285: The Ethics of Civic Engagement

Instructor: Adrienne Falcon
Sociology and Anthropology
Spring 2012

Course Description
In this course, students will discuss the ethical questions that arise when they engage with others in research, service, organizing, or policy work. Students will read and talk about the meanings and forms of civic engagement and use these readings to reflect upon their own research or service projects, or to reflect upon the college's role in Haiti or Faribault, two areas where college members are actively engaged. Gaining insights from sociological and practice based readings, we will examine different perspectives on the ways that power and privilege relate to civic engagement.

SOAN 285 Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 36kB Dec14 12)

Visuality and Civic Engagement Assignment

How does one represent civic engagement visually? What are the challenges and opportunities in trying to do such a representation? What can be learned from considering together different images of civic engagement?

This assignment asks you to identify one image, which you can create or take from the web or take you're your own experiences doing civic engagement that for you represents civic engagement (remembering that if you do that, you need to provide a link or citation so that we can track its source or provide a copy of the image). You can link this to your project in the course, or to an interest of yours.

At the beginning of every class, like I did today, we will ask 2-3 of you to share your images and then discuss them as a class to see what we learn from trying to represent an abstract concept. We will look at each image individually and ask you to speak about why you have chosen this image and what you think it communicates. Please also put a link to your image in the Moodle site to record them.

Partway through the class we will read the article on a photo voice project in Argentina with young people growing up in a poor, environmentally hazardous environment.

Auyero, Javier and Debora Swistun. 2007. "Amidst Garbage and Poison: An Essay on Polluted Peoples and Places" in Contexts 6, 2, 46-57.

This will help us to consider image production and the power questions involved as well as more about one approach to generating images which aim to communicate social injustice.

Once everyone has shared their images, at the end of the quarter, we will also discuss what we learned as a whole about representation and civic engagement. We will, as a group, consider how what we have learned can affect our own interpretations of other images and our own work as we produce images.