Teaching Baltimore Together: building thematic cooperation between classes
One year ago, Baltimore citizens took to the streets to protest not only the death of Freddie Grey, but the structural inequalities and structural violence that systematically limit the opportunities for working-class African Americans in Baltimore. The protests, though, were not just confined to Baltimore City. Borne on sophisticated understandings of intersectionality and political economy, the moral imperatives from the Baltimore Uprising resonated with students at our university in Baltimore County, where campus activists moved to both support the people of Baltimore while using the moment of critical reflection to critique racial inequalities on campus. Since students were displaying a holistic, anthropological understanding of race and inequality in Baltimore, we decided to structure our classes accordingly and brought together several courses in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice in order to examine the interrelationships between power, race, class, public space and urban development. We taught common texts, visited each other’s classes, and planned events that brought students together with community leaders in Baltimore to discuss common concerns and to learn from each other. This paper reports on that experiment and suggests that a pedagogical model premised on drawing thematic linkages between existing courses is one way to address current events that impact us all while allowing students to direct the course of their own education.
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