Wednesday, August 01, 2018

New Education for Empowerment minor engages undergraduates


The School of Education now offers a new undergraduate minor called Education for Empowerment. Students who pursue this minor will examine the critical role of education in building the capacity to advance democracy and justice in society. They will explore questions such as:

  • What is the relationship, historically and today, between education and power?
  • How do individuals, communities, organizations, and societies leverage teaching and learning as tools for social change and social movement?
  • Beyond schools and classrooms, what are the sites of educational and youth work that offer opportunities to advance justice, in the United States and around the world?
  • How might we develop our imagination for humanizing educational spaces—both within and beyond schools—that recognize each person’s power in the ongoing struggle for justice?

Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dean of the School of Education, identified the need for this minor while listening to undergraduates describe their interests: “Undergraduates on this campus mentor and coach youth in summer camps, museums, music, and sports, and they regularly work as advocates for improving education conditions for youth of all ages. They recognize, however, that there is much more to learn about how to create powerful educational opportunities that allow children and youth to develop their full potential and contribute to social justice. The Education for Empowerment minor offers U-M students a focused program of study to learn new ways that they can make an impact in the community through informal education, policy work, international teaching, coaching and leadership, and community engagement.”

The minor requires a minimum of 15 credit hours, including a foundation course, three elective courses, an internship, and a capstone course. Students may select from various pathways, including Children and Youth in Context: Culture, Communities, and Education; Advancing Equity through Education Policy; and Education in a Global Context. Students may also propose an individualized pathway of their own design, with the approval of a minor advisor.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Teacher Education Shari Saunders led the development of the minor with the support of SOE faculty and staff. Saunders says, “The curriculum is designed to give students the ability to explore topics of interest to them, while also providing a cohesive learning experience. Meanwhile, the internship component gives them practical experience, in the US or abroad, with youth or policy-related issues.”

The minor is also an important curricular development in the school’s mission to advance diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity through education. By inviting undergraduates from around campus to join the SOE community in exploring the role of education in advancing justice, the school hopes to make a demonstrable impact through this effort.

Requirements, course listings, and contact information are available on the SOE website.

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