From its inception, the ABC course has attempted to introduce students to the Philadelphia organizing landscape and issues of local significance related to education and activism, while providing opportunities for direct engagement with community activists. While the two previous versions of the course invited students to connect with local advocates and engage in dialogue around community-based organizing work, the Fall 2019 iteration of the course purposefully shifts from a community engagement model to a partnership model. Engaging community members after students have already determined topics of inquiry, as was the case in previous iterations, does little to cultivate reciprocity or mutual benefit within university-community relations. In fact, this dynamic can reproduce a pattern of knowledge and resource extraction that undermines the possibility of meaningful collaborations with local communities.
For students, our approach will provide a more substantive form of engagement with community organizations and, for community partners, it is hoped that having an expanded role in shaping the course direction will produce public-facing scholarship that is more useful to their existing work.
While three areas of community partnership have been established to engage with the organizing efforts of teachers, students, and place-based communities, each working group will determine the nature of our shared inquiry as a class. At the culmination of the course, a community showcase will be held to celebrate the end of the semester and publicly share the work generated through the course.