Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Course: UNIV 399Y Grassroots Activism

Beyond the Classroom Living and Learning Program
UNIV 399Y: Youth Grassroots Leadership
Spring 2015

“At every opportunity, Baker reiterated the radical idea that educated elites were not the natural
leaders… Local autonomy was the cornerstone of a meaningfully engaged democratic practice. If local people did not have ownership of the struggle they were engaged in, they would be beholden politically to others who would not necessarily experience the consequences of the struggle.”
– Barbara Ransby in “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision”

This seminar series will examine present-day youth leadership in some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time with a particular focus on intersectional movements led by marginalized peoples.

Through guest speakers, spoken word, hip-hop, blogs, new media, and documentaries, students will
learn first-hand from other students and youth who are directly impacted by the social structures they
are resisting. Students will develop skills to analyze tactics, strategies, and leadership structures of
present-day youth activism while listening to and engaging with the voices of directly impacted youth.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: This syllabus is a work in progress. The best social movements are fluid and adaptable, ready to respond to changes in policy, events, and groundswells of any kind. As such, if throughout the semester there are great strides on an issue that is not currently addressed in this
syllabus, every effort will be made to make space for it. Additionally, this could not be a course on
youth-led movements without recognizing that you all, as students, have the power and capacity to do
and be part of incredible things. Therefore, if any student would like to suggest a movement, issue, or
group to be included, let’s talk about it and make it happen.

VENUE & TIME: Beyond the Classroom Seminar Room, 1102 South Campus Commons, Building 1, Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 pm, Spring Semester 2015.

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays from 1:00-2:00PM and Thursdays from 2:00-3:00PM or by appointment. 1104 South Campus Commons, Building 1.

ACADEMIC CREDIT OPTION: Students may register for “UNIV 399Y: Youth Grassroots Leadership” as part of a 1-credit option (REG/P-F/AUD basis) for this seminar series.

INSTRUCTOR: Amy Fischer, Graduate Assistant,
Beyond the Classroom Living and Learning Program,
University of Maryland, 1104 South Campus Commons
Phone: 301-314-9860 (office) 615-414-8282 (cell); E-mail:

The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity,
administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

The University of Maryland policy states that students should not be penalized in any way for
participating in religious observances. Students will be allowed, whenever practical, to make up
assignments or course activities missed in these cases. Also per University policy, all arrangements for such absences must be made within the first two weeks of the course.

In the event of inclement weather that leads to the official closing of the campus, please check your
email and Blackboard for updates on the course requirements and any changes to the course syllabus.
Check for updates on the university’s status.

Students with documented disabilities should contact the instructor within by the end of the schedule
readjustment period to make sure they receive accommodations. For information about services offered to students with disabilities, refer to the Counseling Center website at

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: In order to receive course credit, students are required to attend eight of the evening seminars and actively participate in the seminar discussion informed by the assigned readings from that week (15% of the final grade), post an on-line reflection for five of the seminars you attend that incorporates the readings for that week (30% of the final grade), attend and write an online reflection for a civic engagement event that supports a grassroots, youth-led movement (10% of the final grade) and submit a 3-5 page paper and prepare a 5 minute presentation in which you may choose from one of the following three options (45% of the final grade)
1. Delve deeply into one of the movements that was discussed throughout the semester and
research the history, complexities, key players, and intersectionalities of the issue

2. Research the key factors, players, and strategies of a youth-led movement that was not covered
throughout the semester
3. Use your creativity to develop a detailed strategy piece about expanding and organizing around
an issue of your choosing in a grassroots, intersectional way, led by those that are directly
**You may choose to submit an alternative to a formal paper, such as a blog post, video, or other art
form. This MUST be discussed and agreed upon in advance.
Item Course Requirement Form Weight Due Date
1. Class attendance and
Read, attend, and
participate in a minimum of
8 class sessions
10 percent Every week –
Tuesdays 7:00-
9:00 PM

2. On-Line Reflection Minimum 500 Words for 5
class sessions of your
30 percent By midnight the
following Tuesday
for the previous
Tuesday’s class on

3. Engage in a
grassroots, youth-led
Attend and write a
minimum 500 word
15 percent By midnight one
week after the
event via Email
4. Final paper and
3-5 page paper and 5
minute presentation on one
of the three options above
45 percent May 12

1. Students are expected to sign-in to each class and come prepared to actively participate. Participation
will be graded using the following criteria:
A= Highly Effective Participant: Insightful questions and comments; clearly does the reading and
goes beyond by introducing other relevant material.
B= Consistent Participant: Thoughtful questions and comments; clearly does the reading.
C= Occasional Participant: Regularly attends class; sporadic involvement in discussions; often
based on personal opinion rather than analysis of class material.
D= Regularly attends class, but does not get involved in class discussions.
E= Occasional Observer: Sporadic attendance; no participation in class.

2. These reflections may be informal, but an A grade will be well-thought out, inclusive of the reading material, and show that you are thinking critically about the issue. Since these are online, I encourage students to ask questions of and respond to your peers.

3. This is an event of your choice, and I will provide opportunities throughout the semester for students to engage. Students are encouraged to find other events and share with the rest of the class for opportunities to engage. Students will attend an event and will have one week to provide a reflection on what the activity was, why it was important, how they felt about it, and how it connects to class material.

4. These are more formal papers on any one of the three options noted above with an accompanying
presentation for the last day of class to provide an opportunity to share with the rest of the class.
Presentations should be approximately 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of questions and discussions.
Students are encouraged to be creative and turn in deliverables that can be used in activism of some
kind. Any student who wishes to do anything outside the traditional paper and presentation (i.e. video,
blog, website, etc.) must, however, seek approval from the instructor in advance.

You are highly encouraged to participate in the campus-wide online course evaluation system,
CourseEvalUM, in order to provide you valuable feedback about this course. Go to the web site: to complete your evaluation.

COURSE SCHEDULE: Readings will be posted each week on Canvas
Week: Theme:
January 27 Racial Justice – Documentary Freedom Summer
February 3 Racial Justice – Activists from #DCFerguson
February 10 Youth Justice in Sweden - Documentary Do Not
Treat Us Like Animals
February 17 Youth Justice – Formerly incarcerated youth
activists from JustKids Maryland
February 24 Workshop – Organizing 101
March 3 Labor Rights - Documentary Made In L.A.
March 10 Immigrant Justice – Undocumented Youth
March 17 **No Class – Spring Break
March 24 Palestine – Documentary Budrus: It Takes A
Village To Unite the Most Divided People on Earth
March 31 Music as Recovery – Documentary Death Metal
April 7 From the Fields – Online discussion with Youth
Farmworker Organizers
April 14 Workshop – Non-Violent Direct Action Training
April 21 When the Revolution Ends - Documentary Egypt:
Children of the Revolution
April 28 – Venue: Leah Smith Recital Hall
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
Special Joint Event with The Clarice Smith
Performing Arts Center and the Nile Project on
“The Nile Prize: Empowering Grassroots Leaders
for a Sustainable Future”
May 5 Intersection Youth Activist Mixtape – Short Docs,
Poems, and Music Videos
May 12 Final Presentat

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