Peace Studies: Social Justice in Literature and Life
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” -Arundhati Roy
“The classroom remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.” -bell hooks
Woolman’s English class, Peace Studies, is comprised of a rigorous, social justice-based language arts seminar and an organizer-training workshop. The purpose of the seminar is to use social justice theory to provide students with an advanced language arts study in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language for college and career preparation. To do this, we will read and analyze a wide range of texts, write confidently and competently across genres, and engage in critical dialogue with an emphasis on deep listening and valuing diverse perspectives.
Our course begins with creating community and a basic understanding of peace, justice, and violence. We then move into studying power, privilege, oppression, and allyship, specifically relating to racial justice and queer and feminist movements. Next, we look at past and contemporary nonviolent campaigns and resistance movements addressing injustices and analyze their range of strategies. Specific movements we will focus on include Indigenous Rights, Environmental Justice, Nuclear Abolition, Civil Rights, Black Power, Black Lives Matter, and Immigrant Rights. On our trip to the Bay Area we will visit youth and community organizations working for social justice and creating alternative models for healing and justice to resist what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. identified as the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism. Finally, we will learn about and practice tools for cultivating and sustaining inner peace and wellbeing. Throughout the semester, we will incorporate individual and group work, journaling, art, storytelling, role-plays, music, film and participatory activities. Selected authors including Andrea Smith, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Elizabeth "Betita" Martínez, Howard Zinn, Joanna Macy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mia Mckenzie, Paulo Freire, Starhawk and more.
The ultimate intention of Peace Studies is to facilitate students’ abilities to recreate communities of critical analysis and joy, empathy and empowerment in the world beyond our classroom—bringing about a more just and peaceful society. Equally important to developing a critical consciousness is acting upon viable solutions. Participants will be asked to not only reflect on but to actively challenge and deconstruct violent power relations and to reconstruct more peaceful, equitable and just power dynamics in their daily lives. In our projects workshop students jointly choose an issue they care about to research, plan and organize a collective action to create social change during the course of the semester. In addition to this collective action, the ongoing semester project for Peace Studies is an action plan in which students will mirror the steps of our collective organizing process to envision and plan their own project for change that they will implement in their home communities after the semester. The course will build students' skills in researching, power mapping, strategic action planning, facilitation, group process and consensus, community outreach, media promotion, and artivism.
Peace Studies Unit Overview:
Unit One: Our Lives Together
Unit Two: Our Lives and Anti-Oppression Work
Unit Three: Resisting Militarism, Indigenous Peoples Movements, Environmental Justice
Unit Four: Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Lives Matter
Unit Five: Queer Liberation and Immigration Rights
Unit Six: Inner Peace and Wellbeing