The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

New class explores democracy, alternative teaching methods

My friends often comment that I take classes they haven’t heard of and request that I tell them all the “cool classes” I’ve found before they sign up. This time, I’ll let everyone in on the surprise.

Next semester, Guilford’s justice and policy studies (JPS) department will be offering an innovative new course titled “Reclaiming Democracy: Dialogue, Decision-Making, and Community Action” (JPS 350). After meeting on Monday nights from 6-9 p.m. for approximately a month, the class will be held at the Elon University School of Law located in downtown Greensboro.

The four-credit course will be taught by professor Sherry Giles, a new JPS teacher, along with six other teachers from five local colleges. The class will bring in a maximum of 25 students from Bennett College, Elon University, Guilford, Greensboro College, UNC-Greensboro (UNC-G), NC A&T, and the broader community. Students and teachers will create a group definition of democracy and will collaborate to shape course material.

“We’re trying to model democracy as well as thinking about it, so students will be shaping the issues,” Giles said.

Students will spend the first part of each class together listening to panels and interactive lectures but most of the course will be spent in small groups of approximately ten to twelve students. Each group, facilitated by a professor, will pick an issue to focus on for the course. Students will have input about which group they participate in but professors will make the final decision in order to mix up students from different institutions. At the end of the course, each group will present their research to the class and larger community.

“It sounds like a great networking and community-building experience,” junior John Douglas said.

Issues will include topics such as desegregation, terrorism, community organizing, the economics of racism, and truth and reconciliation. While topics will incorporate a global and national context, “all of the issues will be grounded in Guilford County,” Giles said. Most readings will be primary documents or articles, and likely only one assigned text.

The course, which is modeled after a class by Tim Tyson in Durham, is the brainchild of Giles and Spoma Jovanovic, professor of communications at UNC-G. Together, Jovanovic and Giles will teach the course along with Elon professor of philosophy Stephen Schulman, Bennett professor of political science Gwen Bookman, longtime community activist and organizer Ed Whitfield, A&T economics professor Larry Morse, and Greensboro College religious studies professor Dan Malotky.

Course material will be split into three parts: where we are, how we got here, and where do we want to be and how do we get there.

“We want to find a way that communities can do things for themselves, and have things done for the community as opposed to being done to it,” Whitfield said.

“Reclaiming Democracy” is an upper level JPS elective aimed at juniors and seniors but interested sophomores should contact Giles. Financial aid will be available to those who need it.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *