The Hashtag Syllabus Project launches today. The “hashtag syllabus” has emerged as a digital, crowd-sourced form of knowledge production in response to the events in Charleston, Ferguson, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
As historian Lisa A. Monroe has described them, these are “critical intellectual resources and promote collective study both within and outside of the academy during [a] moment of heightened racial tension.” By bringing these collections together here, my goal is to build on this work by making the knowledge within each one more accessible, discoverable, and open for further development and contribution from the activists, academics, and anyone who is simply interested in growing and learning more.
The Hashtag Syllabus Project, hosted here at Racism Review, brings together many of the syllabus projects that have cropped up on the internet over the past couple of years. The name of the project harkens to its digital origins–open access syllabi created outside of traditional academe and shareable through many online platforms, especially social media platforms. In keeping with the spirit of collecting and sharing these syllabi, it’s my hope that this Hashtag Syllabus Project can be useful in a variety of ways–for academics and educators looking to reimagine their classroom curricula, for independent thinkers searching for radical epistemologies, and for the activists hoping to bridge the perennial gap between theory and practice–this page is for you.
Each syllabus is prefaced by a short introduction to contextualize the work–feel free to click a syllabus and (re)discover histories, knowledges, and (your)self. And, please do contribute your own syllabus project. All credit is attributed to the original authors, creators, and contributors of these syllabi projects.
~ Alyssa Lyons is a graduate student in sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY
This is the week that a lot of people are returning to school after the break, or at least thinking about the return to classes. And, many people, like Pitseleh at Backstage, are planning of courses for the coming semester. So, I thought it might be a good time to address the ways you can use Racism Review in the classroom.
Part of the reason Joe and I started this blog was to provide resources for those who typically stand in front of the classroom, as well as provide an ongoing place for discussion for all of us who sit in those rows and rows of chairs ( photo credit: brandongreer – with apologies to all you Freirians who are putting your chairs in a circle, the ones at my institution are bolted to the floor like the ones in this image). We’ve added a pages here with a few syllabi from other instructors (feel free to send me others and I’ll add them to the collection). We’ve also got a good list of topic-relevant documentaries from a variety of filmmakers that you may find useful in designing your courses. Or, if you’re taking a course, these will point you in the direction of books and films that could help you learn more. In addition to these rather unidirectional resources, the interactive quality of the blog can be useful for learning about race and racism.
I’ve made use of this blog in my classes, and it can work quite well. Here are some suggestions for ways to use Racism Review in the classroom:
- Assign it as supplemental reading requirement. This is good choice if you have a few students who are very interested in the topic and want explorations beyond the classroom. As with any supplmental reading, this is difficult (if not impossible) to evaluate, so I don’t usually include this in the grading scheme.
- Make it a required reading assignment. As a required reading assignment, you can then have students write a reaction paper to what they read in a post (either whatever’s currently on top of the blog, or you as the instructor can pre-select one and assign it). You can also have students read the blog and come to class prepared to discuss what they’ve read (my experience is that the discussion is more lively if they’ve written about it first, but your mileage may vary, as they say). Again, the reading is difficult to evaluate on its own, so the grading scheme here would be to evaluate the reaction papers or the classroom discussion.
- Offer students the option of extra credit points for comments. This is what I’ve done most often, and it seems to work well with undergraduates who are highly motivated by extra credit points. Typically, what I offer is one point of extra credit (added to the cumulate course average) with a maximum of five to ten points, depending on the class. I require the students to print out all the comments they made and hand them in on the last day of class.
- Volunteer to Guest-Blog about a topic that you’re covering in the class and have students comment. It’s often the case that we have so much more that we want to share with our students than the boundedness of the physical classroom will allow, and the blog is a good way to push beyond those walls. I found this especially useful when I was teaching a class about Hurricane Katrina and there was just so much more I wanted to share with the class than I could in the allotted time. So I addressed those issues in the form of blog posts, and then assigned them as required reading. If you’re teaching about race/ethnicity and find that there’s a particular topic you’d like to explore in more depth, consider being a Guest-Blogger for Racism Review and writing a post on the topic. (Email me for details if you’re interested: jessiedanielsnyc _at_ gmail _dot_ com).
- Create writing assignments for students that follow a blog post format. This is a more advanced sort of assignment and I’ve done this with upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. Depending on what your other pedagogical goals are in the course, you might want to think about including writing assignments that require students to write in the form of a blog post. If they’re good, and they’re about racism, we’d be happy to include them here as guest-bloggers. The format we usually follow is fairly simple: 500-1,500 words on a current news item related to race/racism with some analysis that includes relevant social science research. The tone is professional, but relaxed. In one graduate course I taught, the blog writing was 30% of the overall grade and I evaluated it based on both form and content. This can be an excellent assignment for more highly skilled students, and especially students who are familiar with blogs and used to the format. The possibility of getting their post on a well-read blog can be a real incentive for hard work in the classroom.
- Something fabulous you design. Of course, I’m sure there are lots of other ways you could have (or already have) used this blog in your classes. Let us know what you’re doing and how you’ve used the blog in the classroom.
Happy pedagogy! 🙂
What’s the best way to begin a class on “Race & Ethnicity”? This question is inspired in part by the terrific discussion in yesterday’s comments about the common trainer’s question, “what about being (fill-in-your-racial-ethnic-background) makes you proud?” and by a recent question on the Teaching Sociology listserv.
For the readers here who are professors and classroom teachers, what’s the best exercise or introduction to this class that you’ve used?
For readers who have taken such a class, what sort of exercises have you enjoyed on the first day? What sorts of exercises do you absolutely loathe?
Let us hear from you in the comment box.
And, as a reminder, we have a (beginning) stash of films and syllabi here at RacismReview available for download. I know lots of folks are working on their syllabus for the upcoming semester right now. Please email me (jessiedanielsnyc _at_ gmail _dot_ com) if you’d like to see your syllabus added to the mix.