Story, Video, and Civic Action UNST 421503 Summer 2013

Story, Video, and Civic Action
UNST 421­503
Summer 2013
Instructor: Kate Kangas
Phone: 503­438­5702
Email: [email protected]
Office hours: By appointment
Text: Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey Into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now
by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze. Berret­Koehler Publishers, 2011
Course Description:
This online course explores how civic action, and the process of story finding and telling, play an
integral role in effecting change in our community. Each student is expected to volunteer thirty
hours with a community organization of their choice over the duration of the term. With the
support of PSU TV, we will be producing videos around stories gleaned from these volunteer
experiences to be shared with the PSU Community.
Course Objectives:
● To facilitate positive change in our local communities through committed volunteer work
and the development of community partnerships.
To explore the role and value of story finding and telling in the effecting change process
by writing and producing high quality videos.
To support the effecting change process and to maximize student learning by creating a
vibrant online community through regular, respectful and thoughtful participation in
readings, reflections, discussion, and group work.
To identify and analyze how the University Studies’ goals (critical thinking,
communication, the diversity of human experience, and ethics and social responsibility)
connect and contribute to the effecting change process.
Course Content and Grading
● Community service and field notes 40%
● Reading and discussion 20%
● Group project 30%
● Portfolio 10%
Community service and field notes
Due Sundays by 11:59 pm, CP Evaluation due August 16th
Participation in this course is contingent upon regular volunteer work (a minimum of 30 hours
total) with a community organization of your choice. You will submit the name and contact
information of your supervisor along with your signed Volunteer Agreement at the beginning of
the term, and while I do reserve the right to check in with this individual, it is my intention to judge
the quality and consistency of your work by your weekly field notes, and by the score of your
Community Partner Evaluation due at the end of the term.
Field notes should consist of two main parts: 1) Context and 2) A story or significant observation
you make while serving with your community partner that week.
I will be breaking this first piece ­ context ­ into seven discrete prompts over the course of the
term. The purpose of these prompts is to facilitate a cursory investigation of the history and
scope of the issue your Community Partner is addressing in the community, and to ultimately
provide background and perspective on the volunteer work you will be doing. Notice I say
“cursory” and not robust, or exhaustive. When writing your context portion of the field notes, be
sure to
● Spend between 30­90 minutes (but no more!) researching the topic online when
appropriate. Google Books, Google Scholar, and PSU’s library databases will prove
helpful in addition to whatever credible information you can find on the web.
● Be succinct.
● When referencing information, hot link to the online source
● Range between 2­4 paragraphs
The story portion of your field notes should
● Range between 2­4 paragraphs
● Describe a notable activity, conversation, character or interaction that you observed or
participated in while volunteering
● Explore the significance. Why did this catch your attention? How does it shape, or add
richness/texture to your experience? What are the implications for story (yours and
● Possibly make a connection to the change process. What does this observation say
about underlying needs, agendas, attitudes or structures? Is transformation evident?
What factors are holding it back/driving it forward?
● End with a question. What does this observation leave you asking? Is there something
your classmates can help clarify or explore?
You are expected to respond to at least one classmate's post by the following Sunday by
midnight. Responses should engage the information provided, and explore the question
presented at the end. Draw on your own experience and expertise to develop or illustrate your
Grading: Each weekly field notes post is worth up to 4 points each (a point for an information­rich
context piece, a point for a thoughtful observation, a point for good writing, and a point for a
thoughtful response), and the Community Partner Evaluation is worth up to 12 points, totaling
40% of your final grade.
Reading and Discussion ­ due Sundays by 11:59pm
This portion of the course allows us to draw from the wisdom of seven distinct effecting change
communities featured in our text Walk Out Walk On, and to connect this wisdom to the work we
are doing in class and in the community. The readings are loosely organized around the
University Studies’ goals as indicated on the calendar.
Week 1 ­ Beginnings (page xiv ­ 19)
Discussion responses due Sunday, June 30
Week 2 ­ Ethics and Social Responsibility (page 20­73)
Prompts due Sunday, June 30
Discussion responses due Sunday, July 7
Week 3 ­ Diversity of Human Experience (page 74­129)
Prompts due Sunday, July 7
Discussion responses due Sunday, July 14
Week 4 ­ Communication (page 130 ­ 159)
Prompts due Sunday, July 14
Discussion responses due Sunday, July 21
Week 5 ­ Critical Thinking (page 160 ­ 187)
Prompt due Sunday, July 21
Discussion responses due Sunday, July 28
Week 6 ­ Storytelling (page 188 ­ 219)
Prompt due Sunday, July 28
Discussion responses due Sunday, August 4
Week 7 ­ Endings (page 220 ­ 236)
Discussion responses due Sunday, August 11
Each student will function as a discussion facilitator at some point during the term. Discussion
facilitators are responsible for reading the week’s material ahead of time, and for crafting a
prompt that will spark robust and meaningful conversation.
Prompts are due Sunday by 11:59 pm in the appropriate D2L discussion folder, and should
● Range between 2 ­ 4 paragraphs
● Reflect a thoughtful reading of the text, and engage some aspect of it (cite page
● Connect to the University Studies’ goal for that week
Draw on personal experience
Explore implications for effecting change; in life generally, and in your current volunteer
work specifically
● Ask a good, open ended, stimulating question(s)
● Be written clearly, with no grammatical errors
Responses to these prompts are due the following Sunday by 11:59 pm. This gives you a week
to read, consider, and reply. When giving feedback remember to
● Engage the prompt/latest response
● Develop ideas (don’t simply repeat them) through personal application, respectful critique
and/or connection to other course readings or concepts
● Move the conversation forward
Grading: Prompts are worth up to 6 points each, and weekly discussion participation is worth up
to 2 points each week, totalling 20% of your final grade. Note: I will be grading the discussion
threads as a whole, and NOT individual responses. I will be looking for 1) quality of content
throughout, 2) interaction between students (I like lots of back and forth), and 3) a progression of
ideas. You will be graded on your contribution to the whole.
Team Video Project
Process updates and deliverables due Sundays by 11:59 pm; Final project due August 18th
Working as an interdisciplinary team to create or perform something of use and meaning for the
community is an integral component of all senior capstones. In this class we will be writing,
shooting, and producing six video shorts around stories gleaned from our volunteer experiences.
The final videos will be shared with the PSU community through PSU TV, and also with high
school students participating in PSU’s Senior Inquiry High School Program. Over the last year
these students have been studying social and environmental justice issues. The objective of our
video project is to share how these issues are playing out in the context of your various volunteer
settings across Portland, and to facilitate deeper understandings and discussion.
This video production process will require a significant amount of creativity, initiative, and
collaboration to pull off well. I realize these qualities can be tricky to generate in the online
environment when connecting face to face is not an option*, which means we will have to be
strategic and committed to using the communication tools we do have. My hope and expectation
is that you bring your skills, voice and vision to this creative endeavor, and that you take
ownership of the process.
Videos will be produced by teams of two, and unlike the rest of the coursework, this process will
take place outside of the D2L site on a team Wordpress blog. A blog format is more conducive
to the creative exchange of ideas, files, links, storytelling, comments, and feedback that is
Every Sunday I will post a new blog assignment for that week. More information will be available
at the orientation and on D2L.
Grading: Process (as reflected in your weekly blog participation) is worth up to 14 points (or 2
points per week); Assigned production tasks (interview, storyboard, editing, etc.) are worth up to
6 points total; and the final podcast is worth up to an additional 10 ten points, totaling 30% of your
final grade. Team peer evaluations will be taken into consideration.
Portfolio – due Friday, August 18th
This assignment is an opportunity to compile your best work in one place, and to reflect upon the
capstone learning experience as a whole. When compiling your portfolio, be sure to
● Follow the outline provided
● Write clearly, with no grammatical errors
● Format it like a standard paper (double spaced, 1 inch margins, Times New Roman font,
size 12, works cited, etc.)
● Title all reflection and field note selections with original name and submission date
● Submit it as a pdf file in the appropriate D2L Dropbox folder
Portfolio Outline:
I. Introduction and Context for Volunteer Work
Compile the Context portions of your weekly field notes into one cohesive piece. Refine, pair
down, and edit as needed.
i. Introduction (Week 1)
ii. The Need (Week 2)
iii. Addressing that Need (Week 3)
iv. My Community Partner (Week 4)
v. Perspectives from the Population Being Served (Week 5)
vi. Perspectives from the Opposition (Week 6)
vii. Beyond the Single Story (Week 7)
II. Story from Field Notes
Select your favorite piece from the story portions of your field notes that you posted over the
term, and in italics, add one or two paragraphs discussing the story’s significance and
connection to your learning.
III. Discussion
Choose your favorite discussion that you participated in over the term. Briefly describe the
nature and scope of thread, quoting only the most pertinent material (Note: Please do not copy
and paste the entire discussion here). Then explain the significance of this discussion, and its
connection to your learning.
IV. Group Project
Briefly describe your role in the video production process, and what your experience of it was.
What was the greatest challenge? What was the greatest success? Would you do anything
differently? What do you think of the final product?
V. Conclusion
At the end of your introduction you state what you hope to accomplish over the term. Do you feel
you met this goal? Do you have any deeper insights about the effecting change process in the
area you are working (needs, solutions, resources, conflicts, cultural considerations, etc.?) How
does your video production experience relate? Looking back over the term, what did you learn
that will be of particular value to your future, both professionally and personally?
Grading: Your portfolio is worth up to 10 points, or 10% of your final grade.
Final Grading Scale
93­100% A, 90­92% A ­, 87­89% B+, 83­86% B, 80­82% B­, 77­79% C+, 73­76% C, 70­72% C­,
67­69% D+, 63­66% D, 60­62% D­, <60% F.
Late Work Policy
I do not accept late work unless an alternate arrangement has been discussed previous to the
assignment deadline. Please contact me in advance if you foresee late submission. Grace
periods will be granted at my discretion according to individual circumstance, and are not
PSU Code of Conduct
It is strongly encouraged that you read the Student Conduct Code (see It details your rights and responsibilities as a student and
as a member of Portland State Community.
Students with Disabilities
Students with accommodations approved through the DRC are responsible for contacting the
course instructor prior to or during the first week of the term to discuss accommodations.
Students who believe they are eligible for accommodations but who have not yet obtained
approval through the DRC should contact the DRC immediately (see
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