Available courses and webinars

Environmental Justice (EJ) marks a shift in environmental thought as well as announces the gaps within the modern environmental movement. Traditionally, the modern environmental movement focuses on protecting nature with the understanding that humans are separate from or outside of nature and more specifically that the environment must be protected from humans. EJ places humans at the center of environmental concerns by expanding what constitutes “the environment” to all the places where people work, live, and play. EJ also brings to the fore that low-income and communities of color are more likely to bear the burden of environmental harms including pollution, pesticides, and other toxins from industrial processes that compromise health and shorten lives. These same populations often lack access to healthy green spaces, nature. In this two-hour webinar we will explore historical and current environmental justice struggles form the creation of the National Parks to Love Canal to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the Flint, Michigan water crisis to green gentrification. We will look at how the intersection of race, class, and gender can and often does produce vulnerable populations and communities that contend with environmental injustices. We will also unpack how vulnerable communities resist and challenge environmental injustices by contesting understandings of the environment while also protecting nature outside the tradition of modern environmental thought.

How do you spark change in a community? First, you need to understand what needs changing and why. Deep exploration of communities can help you to uncover problems and strengths and develop effective solutions to overcome obstacles while boosting community assets.

This workshop will discuss effective methods to explore important community issues, and participants can create or refine research ideas for the pre-developed project of their choice. At least one week prior to the workshop, all participants are invited to send in a one-page explanation of a project, noting a problem faced by a community, what methods have been used (if any) to address the problem, and some ideas for how to more thoroughly examine the problem using readily available resources.

Because this workshop is short, we will focus on a handful of methods that are most applicable to the workshop participants’ projects. Participants can expect to receive short lectures detailing specific methods and participate in discussions about their individual projects. Resource lists for future exploration of research methods will be provided. Send project explanations to Zac Henson.

 In October of 2017, the people of Birmingham elected Randall Woodfin mayor by a landslide.  This historic election was the result of many factors, but a big part was grassroots support from movement organizations.  The movement in Birmingham weakened the incumbent, William Bell, by attacking him on the Violence Reduction Initiative, a militarization of the police force, and gentrification.  Woodfin reached out to these movements and gained their support during the campaign and as a result was elected mayor.

This webinar will trace the organizing strategy and tactics for the 2017 Birmingham movement, will analyze exactly how the movement was able to create leverage for change, and discuss recent developments with the Woodfin administration and opportunities for change.

Urban food production has cultural, spiritual, and economic significance. This webinar will outline the conditions that stimulated the emergence of urban agriculture from roughly the 1880s to the present in the United States and Cuba. We will reference specific historic moments of importance for urban food production, such as for food security during times of crisis. Some of the most recognized government-supported urban agriculture programs occurred in times of war, particularly the Liberty Gardens during WWI and Victory Gardens during WWII.

This semester long course will move through theories of organizing by Saul Alinsky, Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, and Gary Delgado to allow students to develop their own approach to organizing.  In the second half of the semester, we will look at different types of movements and how they engage with the powerful.  We will look at the Civil Rights Movement, The Zapatista Movement, and Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston to discover the myriad of ways of leveraging change.  Students will leave the class with a comprehensive knowledge of social movement strategy and tactics that they will be able to immediately put to use in their work on the ground.

Popular education is the most important tool in movement work. Popular education was developed in resistance to traditional education that sees the teacher as the knowing-subject and the student as the passive recipient of knowledge. Instead, the job of teaching is the facilitate the creation of learning communities win which teachers and students learn from each other. Teachers become teacher-students and students become student-teachers.  This devolves the power away from the teacher and creates a democratic learning environment where everyone contributes equally.

This course takes an ecosystem approach to the study of urban gardens with an organic perspective. Topics include fundamentals of horticulture, soil properties and fertility, pest and disease management, and food preservation. Laboratories include methods in garden design, plant propagation, compost technique, soil preparation, irrigation systems, pest management, individual or group projects, demonstrations, and discussions.

The course also studies how urban food production interacts with social, cultural, and political dimensions of the urban environment. We examine the historic and contemporary forces driving urban agriculture, and the ways that it contributes to processes of gentrification, food security, biodiversity, energy conservation, job creation, human health, and well being. We also discuss the importance of urban agriculture for food and restorative justice movements.