Course list

An "equitable community" means one in which everyone is included in the full benefits of society. In this course, you will examine what inequity means to you and how it manifests within the U.S. and your community. You will identify causes of inequity including power differentials, biases, and ineffective development policies, among others. You will also identify an inequity in your community that is important to you and reflect on its causes. You will participate in several relevant discussions with peers, advancing your own and others' knowledge of these issues. Then, you will discover strategies to create equitable change and hear directly from activists working to do so in their communities. Finally, you will build your own plan for how to advocate to address an inequity in your community.

You may feel like the defining challenges of our modern era, such as racial and economic inequality and climate change, are problems that cannot be solved. Perhaps you believe you don't have the agency or power to make this world a better and more equitable place. You may be well intentioned but feel that you just can't do much to create real and lasting change. If you ever want to break this cycle, you need to change the way you think. You need to recognize that you have agency and identify exactly where you can exercise it in pursuit of change that is meaningful and lasting.

This course delves into how you can take part in this important shift by learning to use the tools of systems thinking and power analysis. You will create a map of the system that is generating a persistent racial, social, or economic inequity that you aim to change. Using power analysis, you will then identify those actors and institutions that are supporting or blocking change, and you will determine where in this network of power to exert pressure for change. Finally, you will build a theory of change connecting short-term changes that are possible in the present through a series of logical steps to your vision for a more equitable future.

Organizations and social movements can perform their own research to advance equitable community change. They can discover, collect, use, and disseminate data to support their projects and goals. But any raw data requires processing for it to become useful, valuable information. Such processing includes selective extraction, organization, analysis, and formatting. This processing allows data to reach its potential as powerful and persuasive information. This course introduces you to the processes by which data is analyzed and converted from raw resources into valuable information and knowledge.

The first step of gathering data relevant for an equitable community change project is to clearly formulate the questions you would like to try to answer using data. In this course, you begin by developing strong research questions about a community's social, economic, and environmental conditions and how those conditions change over time. You will then examine how to gather or find reliable data, and make a plan to do so in order to answer a research question. Next, you will discover some basic data analysis techniques and determine whether those techniques could be used to help you answer a research question. Finally, you will reflect on the importance of becoming a critical consumer of data analyses and evaluate data analysis examples.

Policy is an instrument for coordinating people's behavior in various social situations. Public policy, often created and enacted by governments, can be either a source of inequity or a means for advancing equity, depending on its design and effects. In this course, you will use a number of methods to define a problem your community is facing, determine a policy goal you aim to achieve, and identify someone whom you can influence to create change. You will discover how to ensure the policy goals you pursue also help to promote change to the social structures and systems that persistently create inequity. You will examine the limits that laws and social norms put on the types of activism you can use to achieve your policy goals. You will then reflect on examples of groups who have effectively created change and identify the strategies and tactics they used which could also be useful for you.

At the end of the course, you will have developed a policy goal consistent with equitable development as well as a plan for how you could go about achieving that goal, which you can share with others to build collective action for community change.

In this course, you will discover the forces that disempower and divide people, and keep them from getting involved. You will determine what motivates you to confront these forces and inspires you to work for change. You will then discover practical steps to recruit, expand, and develop a group of people who want to work for change together, and you will create a plan for how you will follow these steps to build your base. Then, you will explore two ways to build a cohesive and trusting group of people who can work together to create change. You will articulate a statement of why your group should take urgent action to create change, and explain how you will ensure that meetings of your group are effective, equitable, and collaborative. Using the tools in this course, you will be prepared to engage in collective action and motivate others to do so along with you.

Perhaps you do not see yourself as a "researcher." In reality, however, we all perform some kind of research in our daily lives. Interestingly, the skills you use to navigate through day-to-day choices are the same basic skills you use in social action research projects that aim to define and propose solutions to collective problems.

In this course, you will begin to perform social action research to inform community change efforts. More specifically, you will study what social action research is and how to formulate and execute a plan for your research. Finally, you will explore how to communicate the findings of your research to a target audience who can help you to create equitable social change in the communities you serve. You will also see examples of action research and effective research communications that you can apply in your own research projects.

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