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November 18, 2019

Newsletter Features Reclaiming Democracy Course


“Reclaiming Democracy,” the innovative, interdisciplinary course in which students from six area campuses, including Guilford College, learn alongside members of the community, is featured in the national Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) fall 2019 newsletter.

Sherry Giles, professor and chair of Justice and Policy Studies, and Josie Alston Williams ‘16, director of Community Engagement at the Greensboro Housing Coalition, co-authored the article with colleagues from Elon University, Greensboro College, and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Sherry is one of the founders and faculty and Josie is a core community partner for the course.

Meeting every other year for the past ten years, the course has grappled with two central questions: What is democracy, and what does it require of us? As part of their efforts to respond to these questions, students complete projects in collaboration with community organizations that address local issues using a bottom-up, grass roots process.

“Reclaiming Democracy” recently received funding from the Partnerships for Listening and Action by Communities and Educators (PLACE) Collaboratory, an initiative of BTtoP, in partnership with the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The Mellon Foundation provided the funding. The collaboratory brings together a network of academic-community partnerships, involving eleven colleges and universities from diverse sectors and regions, to do civic engagement and public humanities work. In addition to “Reclaiming Democracy”—which involves Guilford College, North Carolina A & T University, Bennett College, UNCG, Greensboro College, Elon University, the Beloved Community Center, the Greensboro Housing Coalition, and other community partners—another Greensboro-based project that is in formation will be funded. Co-director of the Center for Principled Problem Solving and Excellence in Teaching Mark Justad and associate professor of Biology, Michele Malotky serve on the steering committee for the PLACE Collaboratory in Greensboro. The CPPS has provided substantial and welcome support for “Reclaiming Democracy” since its inception. 

Faculty of “Reclaiming Democracy” will use a portion of the PLACE funding to expand the leadership of students in the course, by establishing fellowships for them. Reclaiming Democracy Fellows will receive independent study credit and a $500 stipend for their participation in the Reclaiming Democracy Academy in spring 2020. The Academy will bring together students from the six campuses to help faculty design the fall 2020 iteration of the course, to develop community organizing skills, and engage fellow students’ interest in the course. Applications for the fellowship will be available soon.