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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you can make it!
Want to know more about CAP, who’s in it, and what it’s about? Look no further…
The Collective Advocacy Project (CAP) is dedicated to uncovering the intrinsic radical 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, that this very notion is in and of itself radical, and that the making visible of marginalized, oppressed, or otherwise unheard voices is activism. Writing and speaking pedagogies do not belong only in the classroom, as they both perfect the recurring and spur the revolutionary. We believe that understanding one’s own potential for activism is vital to the formation of Liberal Arts college students, and fundamental in the creation of a more just society. CAP, as a project of the Barnard Writing and Speaking Programs, seeks to enhance the student activism on the Barnard/Columbia campus and the world at large.
Who and what is CAP?
In the fall of 2014, a group of upperclass Fellows—at this point several semesters removed from their Writing and Speaking Fellow “training” courses—wished to revisit the radical communication pedagogical theories that ground their Programs. They met for a theory discussion group, led and organized by Writing Program Director Professor Pam Cobrin. The subject of their conversation was a journal 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 very start, our project has been to uncover and expand the intrinsic radical vision of the Writing and Speaking Fellows Programs and more directly apply it to the social justice issues on our campus.
In 2015 CAP became a grant-funded project of the Barnard College Writing and Speaking Programs and consists of a rotating cast of both Writing and Speaking Fellows. The project is student run, but it receives advisory, administrative, and institutional support from Writing Program Director Pam Cobrin and Program Administrator Rebecca Kelliher. 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 that all communication pedagogy has political underpinnings and, as students dedicated to learning for the purpose of creating equality and countering oppression in the world, it is our responsibility to teach advocacy skills as a part of our work within the Barnard College Writing and Speaking Program. Thus, at times, CAP members may also act as communication consultants to fellow students pursuing activist causes. That is, CAP members can and will workshop the writing and speaking of student activists (editing an op-ed for the Spectator or a letter to a fellow activist group, workshopping a speech for a rally or a meeting with an administrator).
This year (2015-2016) CAP will organize peer-led campus spaces for students, both independently and in collaboration with campus institutions such as Well Woman and the Office of Student Life, to record in writing or through speech their responses to their social experiences on campus and political movements—for example, #BlackLivesMatter—responses which can be displayed on campus to raise the social presence of student voices. CAP is currently working on an exhibit about student and faculty responses to trigger warnings!
The members of CAP are not committed to any particular strand of activism or activist clause. The aim of CAP is not to either promote or devalue any causes or ideas. The long term goals of CAP are constantly evolving, but they will always include promoting the radical nature of writing and speaking pedagogies and facilitating activism in its many forms.