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What Kind of Community? An Inquiry into Teaching Practices that Move beyond Exclusion

Stephen Bloch-Schulman, J. F. Humphrey, Spoma Jovanovic, Hollyce "Sherry" Giles, Dan Malotky, Audrey Campbell


Democracy, to be fully realized as inclusive and participatory, requires public spaces in which different views are able to be spoken and heard, and where opinions are formed and informed through interactions among people with diverse interests. This article considers how a multi-institutional/community collaborative course set out to both teach democratic thinking and model democratic processes. In doing so, we consider how the curriculum, teaching style, and activities in one course, Reclaiming Democracy, have been designed to resist the many forms of exclusion that exist both in higher education and community settings. Just as the course has been developed in partnership with six professors, a community organizer, and past students, so too has this article been created, written, edited, and revised by the six faculty members of the teaching team; hence, it is a multi-vocal presentation representing the goals, values, and outcomes of this way of teaching. We focus on what political philosopher Iris Marion Young calls the greeting, rhetoric, and narrative as communicative features that could improve the quality of public discussion and deliberation. Pairing that understanding with Westheimer and Kahne’s three models of citizenship and the curricular models designed to foster them, we specify a number of our own pedagogical choices, offer some examples of student responses, and consider other examples of democratic inclusiveness from the course. Taken together, we argue that these practices make for a rich, democratically engaging and fun experience and may effectively motivate students to seek out and form other democratic communities throughout the course of their lives.

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Partnerships is sponsored by North Carolina Campus Compact, and hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. ISSN: 1944-1061
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