The Collective Advocacy Project Presents A Dialogue Series at Well Woman

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by Carly Crane, Writing Fellow ’15

Explore personal and political expression as self-care with the Barnard Writing and Speaking Fellows at Well Woman! And, of course, there will be snacks. Come hang with us and write to be read, speak to be heard, and be well. 

This semester the Collective Advocacy Project (CAP), a student-organized initiative of the Writing and Speaking Programs, will be hosting a dialogue series at Well Woman. Each peer-directed workshop, organized around a single theme or prompt, will use writing and speaking exercises to encourage peer dialogue about student advocacy in-and-out of the classroom. 

We are kicking off the series Thursday, October 15, 7 pm with the workshop “Considering (In)Visible Identities in the Classroom.” In this inaugural workshop, we’ll be tackling the expectations of both professors and students for participation, discussion, and intellectual disagreement in the classroom, and the ways in which our identities interact with these expectations. Here’s a more in depth explanation of the workshop, from the writers of its curriculum, alums and CAP co-founders Carly Crane (that’s me) and Annelise Finney:

Questions of identity in the classroom are enormous and difficult—they address our entire lives, after all—and they often bring up emotions that disrupt a classroom’s agenda. There can be an unspoken classroom code of conduct that, in order to preserve quietude, demands a “neutral” identity of students, sometimes at the expense of student well-being. Truly, there is no such thing as neutral, and assuming a “neutral” identity is an erasure for whoever attempts it. How are aspects of our identity silenced to serve a “neutral” classroom?  What physical aspects of our identities are not silence-able (in that others observe it about us), yet nonetheless attempted to be silenced, to be “neutralized”? Some related questions we hope to cover: How do you experience trust in classroom discussions and seminars? Considering the (in)visibility of identity, which aspects of your identity do you feel are visible in the classroom? What can a student do with knowledge learned in class that is somehow upsetting? How do we engage critically with our emotions (and those of others) in class without invalidating those emotions?

We’ll be holding three more dialogue workshops over the course of the semester, so don’t worry if you are interested but can’t make it to this one. All sessions held in 119 Reid Hall (Well Woman). Sign up for any or all sessions at writing@barnard.edu.

We hope you can make it!


Want to know more about CAP, who’s in it, and what it’s about? Look no further…

Our Mission

The Collective Advocacy Project (CAP) is dedicated to uncovering the intrinsic potential of the Writing and Speaking Fellows Program; CAP seeks to make Barnard students’ written and spoken voices visible beyond the classroom and in all aspects of life, expanding its parent Programs’ mission of validating students’ voices within the classroom.  We believe that every person’s voice is significant, and that making visible student voices is activism. We believe that understanding one’s potential for activism is vital to a liberal arts education and fundamental for a just society. CAP, as a project of the Barnard Writing and Speaking Programs, seeks to enhance student activism on the Barnard/Columbia campus.

Who and what is CAP?

In Fall 2014, a group of upperclass Fellows—at this point several semesters removed from their Writing and Speaking Fellow “training” courses—wished to revisit the communication pedagogical theories grounding their Programs. They met for a discussion group, led and organized by Writing Program Director Professor Pam Cobrin. The subject was an article by Jennifer S. Simpson titled “Communication Activism Pedagogy” (in Teaching Communication Activism, ed. Lawrence R. Frey and David L. Palmer, Hampton Press, 2014). From the start, our project has been to uncover and expand the intrinsic vision of the Writing and Speaking Fellows Programs and directly apply it to social justice issues on campus.

In 2015 CAP became a grant-funded, student-led project of the Barnard College Writing and Speaking Programs and consists of a rotating cast of Writing and Speaking Fellows. For us, CAP stands for the Collective Advocacy Project, but it is also the acronym for the radical communication activism pedagogy.

Our Mission in Practice

We believe communication pedagogy is political and, as students dedicated to learning for creating equality and countering global oppression, it is our responsibility to develop advocacy skills as a part of the Barnard College Writing and Speaking Programs. The members of CAP are not committed to any particular strand of activism or cause. The aim is not to promote or devalue causes but to facilitate dialogue on campus.

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