I’ve always been interested in learning about ways that teachers link what they do in the undergraduate classroom to real world events. I’ve seen this include asking students to bring in news clippings that relate to the course content, developing collaborative research assignments on new local city policies that are then presented back to the public, archival work, creating and testing environmental education curricula for partnering community organizations, and a variety of other service-learning projects.
So I was very interested today to see the results of a public sociology course taught by my colleague Prof. Alison Alkon at the University of the Pacific. Over the course of a semester Alison trains her students to identify sociological concepts in the media, find press coverage of current events that lacks a sociological perspective but could benefit from its inclusion, and then create a media piece that uses sociology to help explore an issue of their choice. The class projects have resulted in the following two blog posts:
- Whose Misery?: White Privilege in Stockton, CA by Brianna Gall and Alison Hope Alkon. Sociological Images, April 6, 2011.
- Feministic Approach to the Gaming Industry by Meg Jordan. Feministing, May 18, 2011.
Creating writing assignments that students can later submit to a blog of their choice seems like a great way to engage them in issues they are passionate about, with the extra motivation that comes from writing something that could be read by people other than their teacher (both posts generated spirited debates in the comments sections that follow them). I hope Alison will keep us informed as more of her students get published!
More blogging ideas: See sample assignment ideas for working with the Sociological Images blog here. See Alison’s public sociology syllabus here. See the website of a professor whose students write guest-posts on his own blog here.