URB 3270 Toolkit for Community Leaders
by Malia Gaffney
Jane Paul is Teaching Faculty and Head of the undergraduate concentration Urban Studies as well as Teaching (and founding) Faculty in the Masters in Urban Sustainability program. When asked which of her courses receives the most positive feedback from students, she had an immediate answer.
AULA has a number of unique and interesting courses that are especially appreciated by students, and Paul’s Toolkit for Community Leaders is one of them.
What makes this course special?
First of all, the course involves case studies of real community campaigns in LA, including work with the City of LA’s Green Retrofit and Workforce Development Program, LAANE’s Don’t Waste LA and the Figueroa Corridor Coalition Staples Center Community Benefits Agreement.
Then there’s the teacher.
Before a career shift into teaching, Jane Paul was a professional in the field of policy development, with several years of experience working with community based organizations in multiple sectors (environmental justice, economic justice, workforce development, climate awareness) on policies for Southern California, at the juncture of environmental and economic issues.
When asked about the motivations for implementing the course, Paul replied that “Policy development can be a very collaborative process and I believed our Antioch students would enjoy learning how they could build cooperative efforts to move forward effective and inclusive social change campaigns.”
The course was developed when the undergraduate program was updating and refreshing the offerings in the Urban Studies concentration in 2013. Faculty felt that a practical course in implementing social change (in line with the university’s mission of equity and social justice) was needed. The course looks at the steps required and the skills that enable the process – skills to have in one’s toolkit – including research, community organizing, political and power analyses, and communication strategies.
“Our students love the engagement that is in evidence as we study and deconstruct real life social change campaigns, and they are challenged and fulfilled when we build our own campaigns on the issues that are most important to them,” Paul says.
For the student who dreams of creating change in their community, and wishes to develop their leadership skills while gaining practical experience in the field, Toolkit for Community Leaders provides an invaluable opportunity.
Feeling excited about learning? Me too!