Sunday, June 21, 2009

PROPOSED CURRICULUM: Experimental College Fall 2009

Co-Sponsored through the Department of Political Science, College of Ethnic Studies, Environmental Studies Program, and Sociology Department (SFSU)

Course Type = Independent Study

Proposed Objective
This document is not necessarily a curriculum or syllabus, but an attempt to be transparent about our aim to develop ourselves politically, organizationally, and intellectually as student activists. Or in three words, develop critical consciousness. Or in two, humane education.

Our development depends on people not only being present in the same room but also more importantly, actively participating in the course as a collective -- as opposed to a prevalent authoritative model of instruction where a teacher assigns work and expects a certain normalizing behavior -- where certain behaviors earn certain grades. For this “college,” there is an explicit intent to nurture relationships, that is, unite people based on mutual understanding rather than dividing each to conquer all.

So in registering for the course and subsequently engaging ourselves, the hope, is that, with an opening of dialogue in class, we can grapple with how to better relate to each other, through telling stories of our past and how these personal experiences are tied to how we perceive our society, interpersonal relationships, wealth, war, authority, racism, sexism, homophobia, sexuality, gender, colonialism, capitalism, government, and our (counter)culture.

In learning about others and in talking about our own lives, we not only find some commonality and (en)counter any contradictions in society and within our own consciousness but also build trust – a necessity in attempting to effectively organize democratically decided campaigns in the city and/or on campus.

Our aim isn’t to tell people what they need, but facilitating the process of getting our needs met. This facilitation can come in many forms such as the facilitation of a sit-in to protect someone’s job or something more simple such as telling a classmate about the potential sit-in. And for those a bit more orally and politically confident, making an argument in front of a class why they should participate in this sit-in and get organized. Your input is key to make the course meet your needs, because we are a work in progress!

Proposal for structuring our class time
  • Check-ins, report backs and activist updates
  • Planning future classes/events (discussion, debate, formal vote, implementation and coordination of outreach)
  • Consciousness raising through exegesis (i.e., reading aloud and critically explaining text), multimedia (i.e., documentaries, dance, poetry, painting, etc.), field trips, and reflection, especially posing questions to one other, reflecting, and responding
  • End with an evaluation of the class time [everyone should say something (i.e., no passing!)] because everyone’s experience matters!

No assigned reading, instead many proposals!

First Class on September 2nd: Richard Oakes Multicultural Center in the Cesar Chavez Student Center

Subsequent Classes:
  • Wednesday, September 9th - Poetry Center 5th Floor Humanities
  • Thursday, September 10th - Rigoberta Menchu on the Terrace Level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center

Day & Time:
  • Wednesday 10 am - 12 pm
  • Wednesday 12 pm - 2 pm
  • Thursday 12 pm - 2 pm

Potential campaigns/events we can help facilitate:
  • Budget cut fight back, instructor and student retention, and real campus democracy
  • A People's History of SFSU
  • Campaign to defeat the Student Recreation and Wellness fee referendum
  • Campaign calling for a reelection of ASI officers
  • Civil Rights and 68-69 Strike veterans speaking engagement/s
  • Movie/Documentary showing/s of social movements (women's rights/anti-war/environmental/LGBT rights/disabled rights/anti-racist/etc.)
  • More student run courses in the Spring!!!

Potential questions to attempt to answer during “consciousness raising” session:
What do you wanna do this semester?
What are we doing? And why?
What is “power” to you?
How do you see your role in society?
How does attaining a “higher education” fit into this culture/social construct?

Am I being oppressed? If so, how?
Why do principled politics matter?
Why do we need to study history?

What is neoliberalism?
Who controls what in our society?
What did Marx really say about capitalism?
What is anarchism?
Reform or revolution?

What is the role of the state?
How are elections really run?
What’s up with the Democrats?
Who gets subsidized in our society?
Why does so much more money go to prisoners than students and cows than humans?

What does it mean to be a citizen?
How have immigrants become citizens?
How are children of immigrants assimilated?
How is a multicultural education implemented?

Why are these budget cuts so deep? And who decides what?
Who implements these cuts here at SFSU?
What does the ASI do?
Why am I still at SFSU 5+ years later?

What is a social movement?
How did we win the 8 hour day?
Was the 8 hour day really a win?
What is a union? Do they have any limitations?
How do we win back the classes lost?
What happened at SF State in 68?

Can people really “take back” the terms bitch, fag, queer, etc.?
Am I sexist?
What is a two spirit? And why does it matter?
Should we fight for gay marriage?
Are you ready to start practicing some homosexuality?

How did the environmental movement form and where is it now?
Why do we keep planting more corn?
What does recycling do?
Where’s all the oil?
How do we construct more ecological energy sources?

When did you last interact with a (non-human) animal?

Has online communication become a vice?
What is up with online dating?

When did you know you were a good person?
Is living your life revolutionary?
What borders have you crossed?
Can we ever justify killing another human being?
How do we raise the next generation?

And those you find appropriate... Please leave a comment!

As radical educator, Paulo Freire, said in a conversation with Myles Horton, founder of Highlander Folk School, “What I want to say is that it’s impossible to organize without educating and being educated by the very process of organizing” (We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change 121).


  1. I'm incredibly excited to participate in this project!!! It's great to see an effort to build power that recognizes ongoing internal education and transformation as a cornerstone of movement building.
    My understanding is that one of the most important elements of the original experimental college's political orientation was it's unequivocal allegiance to the leadership of the Third World Liberation Front (the organizers of the 68 strike). This relationship was of course complicated and at times problematic, but the admirable core commitment to anti-racist solidarity was there.

  2. YEA! United front against fascism! End the war and take all the money from defence to feed and clothe every person on this planet, not one excluded! Don't let the group of people that own and run the large corporations get away with running our government, tv, newspaper, radio, education, courts, police, prisons, military, churches. They don't even pay taxes! So what right do they have to the control of our government!?!?!?

    We must all participate in ongoing organization to stop these fuckers!!

    7 trillion in bailouts, while those who lost there homes are bankrupt and homeless. They are demolishing homes in the name of supply and demand.

    400 million for prisions so that they can imprision the most marginalized children, usually of color, and then charge the struggling working parents $192 per month for each kid in YA

    nonprofits Sutter Health (CPMC) and Kaiser, who make billions in profit, pay zero dollars in taxes while they close hospitals for the poor in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Leandro, and all over the state.

    This is while the City and State kill the most vulnerable in our community through 100 million in public health cuts in SF alone and 200-300 million in statewide cuts for In home Supportive Services for elderly and mentally ill who will now die in pools of their shit and vomit, while sutter and kaiser get our taz dollars.