Each year’s syllabus is unique, as the course’s community shapes its interests and inquiries. However, the first four weeks of the course, led by the instructor, guide an interrogation of activist praxes, social change, and education. Below you can find a detailed description of these weeks, as well as links to download the complete course syllabus by year.



Theorizing the “Present”

Guiding Questions:

  • What defines the present historical moment?

  • What intellectual and methodological tools do we need to understand the present?

  • How do the ways we understand time (the past, present, and future) and relations (spatial, economic, political) inform our analysis of the present and how we understand future possibilities?

  • What are the implications of these questions for our ability to identify forms of resistance, disruptions, and alternatives to our present conditions?


Further Readings

Activism and Theories of Political Action

Guiding Questions:

  • What is activism?

  • How else can we theorize political action (for example, organizing, direct action, participatory democracy) and what possibilities do these approaches open up or close?

  • What are the connections and tensions among these approaches to political action?

  • What are the affordances and limits of theorizing political action in these ways at this particular time and in response to specific social problems?

  • Do these ways of theorizing political action presume particular kinds of subjects or political projects? If so, how?


Struggles to Transform the School

Guiding Questions:

  • What have been some of the dominant ways of theorizing The School?

  • How do these theories of schooling relate to configurations of power and the relationships between schools, individual actors, collectivities, the state, and society?

  • What have been some of the struggles to transform or provide alternatives to The School as we know it? What were their challenges and limitations? What can we learn from these examples?

  • What could/should The School look like given the needs of our societies and world?


This week’s class was designed in conjunction with Black Lives Matter at School Week (Feb 5-10). Learn more here:

Power and Social Transformation

Guiding Questions:

  • What is power?

  • How can we understand the role of “power” in processes, practices, and possibilities of social transformation?

  • How is power built among those who are understood as “powerless”?

  • How can power be exercised against “powerful” institutions and actors in the interest of radical social change?

  • What are the roles of individuals, collectivities, institutions, and movements in these processes?


Supplemental Overview of Theories of Power



Complete Syllabi by Year

Below you can download the syllabi for each year, complete with readings. Further, syllabi may be annotated with the way the course changed over the semester. The current year’s syllabus only consists of the course description, format, and chosen readings for weeks 1-4.