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Summer 2023 Institute on Teaching Social Action

June 6 - June 8

JUNE 6 – 8, 2023

12:00-4:00 pm daily

This three-day virtual institute will introduce faculty and staff to an experiential learning approach for incorporating social action campaigns into either a semester-long course or co-curricular workshop series. In this transformative experiential learning model, students develop and launch a social action campaign of their choosing during the semester the course is taught. The student campaigns seek to change a rule, regulation, norm, or practice of an institution, whether on campus or in the community.

Our long-term goal is to mainstream this model for teaching active democracy. The world needs more citizens who have developed their knowledge and skills in bringing about positive change through real world experience. While not all of the student campaigns are successful, many have been and those that haven’t succeeded have still taught valuable lessons to those who led them and those who were engaged in one form or another.


There is no cost to join the Summer ‘23 Institute on Teaching Social Action. However, we want to restrict participation in the institute to those faculty, staff or students who are committed to implementing this experiential social action course model. Please note that preparing and supporting students to launch their social action campaigns generally takes at least half of the course content and assignments. Some courses are directly on social action and change, while others address a societal issue (e.g., climate change, housing, poverty, etc.) around which students develop their campaigns. From experience, the social action campaign dimension of these courses takes up roughly half of the course work (readings, assignments, and in-class teaching and group work).

Visit the Institute Website


During the three-day institute, participants will draft a syllabus and develop a teaching and a plan for supporting student campaigns which are launched mid-semester. The institute sessions will be led by Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, Professor of Sociology at San Jose State University, with support from Bobby Hackett, President of the Bonner Foundation. We will use a flipped classroom model, where participants will be asked to prepare for live webinar sessions by reading textbooks CHANGE! A Student Guide to Social Action and CHANGE! A Guide to Teaching Social Action and watching a series of short video presentations on the following topics:

  • An Overview of Teaching Social Action
  • Organizing Your Class
  • Issue Development & Choosing Campaigns
  • Change Theory & Building Power
  • Research & Group Dynamics
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Campaign Kick-Off
  • Campaign Plan & Evaluation

Participants will work with a syllabus template which includes guiding questions. We will discuss the pros and cons of revising a course to incorporate social action campaigns or develop a new course that complements an existing course, concentration, minor, major, or certificate program. We will also share the process and lessons learned from prior student campaigns. We welcome participants who want to explore developing a co-curricular social action workshop series embedded into a fellowship or co-curricular or integrated program.

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