09 August 2018 Blogs

University Launches Activism Fellowship for High School Students

Intro Copy

Getting Involved

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, several ProQuest editors observed and documented the student-led March for Our Lives marches against gun violence and mass shootings. The marches had been sparked by the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida. Recently, we blogged about how some of the survivors of the tragedy have been using music and the arts to cope with the psychological trauma. We have continued to follow the student-led March for Our Lives protests and wondered what resources are available for other youth who are trying to initiate social movements. We also were curious as to what materials are out there for educators who have student activists in their classroom or who have students who want to become more civically engaged.

The Barb Schmidt Fellowship

As chance would have it, we learned about a new student activism fellowship from Angela Nichols, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). According to Professor Nichols, FAU, the university we both attended (Amy Shaw, class of 1991, and Kim Carpenter, attended from 1999-2001), has launched ‘The Barb Schmidt Fellowship: Cultivating Community Involvement, Activism and Social Change.’  The fellowship, which was inspired by the MSD activists and other youth leaders, will run on weekends during the 2018-19 school year, beginning August 25. It consists of an initial class of approximately 30 high school students from Palm Beach and Broward Counties in Florida. Each of these students can earn up to six college credits (three per semester) and a $1,000 stipend, upon successful completion of both Fall and Spring semesters. We learned that the goal of the program is to help students learn how to implement, run and sustain social movements. Students will learn valuable skills, including digital media advocacy, fundraising, presentation skills and more to help drive social change. Barb Schmidt, an internationally recognized author and mindfulness and meditation teacher, will teach students self-care and healthy coping methods to show them how to avoid activist burnout. One of the interesting things about this fellowship is that the students will be developing service-learning projects that incorporate what they are learning. These projects will then be launched in our local communities. We are interested to see what projects this pioneering class will develop and will be sure to blog about it in the future.

Eight More Student Activism Programs

After speaking with Professor Nichols, we wondered if other universities or organizations are offering similar programs to teach high school students about social movements and activism. We found several that offer summer pre-college programs. Here are a few of them. The deadline to enroll has passed for most of these for summer 2018, but if you are interested, be sure to keep these in mind for future summers.:
  1. Barnard College: Young Women’s Leadership Institute: A summer program for high school junior and senior girls to learn about gender issues, social change and leadership.
  2. Brown University: Leadership Institute: As of summer 2018, this institute offers 15 pre-college leadership courses for students, including Sustainable Leadership: Self-Care, Community and Activism; Leadership and Social Justice and Creativity and Social Change.
  3. Emerson College: Pre-College Politics, Activism and Leadership Institute: A two-week summer course for students entering Grades 10-12. Students learn how communication can foster civic engagement and activism in a democratic society.
  4. Georgetown University: Social Justice & Public Policy Immersion: A summer program in which students explore public policy, focusing on social justice issues. Students engage with policy think tanks and organizations.
  5. Notre Dame: Global Issues: Towards a Just Peace: In this summer program, students learn how problems facing the world are interwoven and examine how to craft solutions to them. The university pays the expenses for the program (excluding application and enrollment fees) and students are eligible to receive one college credit upon completion of the program.
  6. Sarah Lawrence College: Social Justice Collective: A summer program on social justice issues involving class, gender, sexuality, and race.
  7. University of Pennsylvania: Social Justice Research Academy: A summer program in which students learn leadership and community development skills and examine struggles to overcome inequality and injustice.
  8. University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh: Social Activists for Equality (SAFE): A summer program in which students learn about and seek to find solutions to inequalities and unjust issues in the United States and globally.

Nine Educator Resources for Student Activism

Here are resources for educators who want to incorporate lesson plans on student activism or learn how to navigate tricky issues, such as student walkouts.
  1. Lesson Plan: There’s Nothing New About Youth-Led Movements (KQED, Public Media for Northern California)
  2. Nine Ways to Help Students Discuss Guns and Violence (Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley)
  3. The Power to Change the World: A Teaching Unit on Student Activism in History and Today (Lesson plans from the New York Times)
  4. Student Civic Action at the CNN Town Hall on the Gun Debate (ProQuest Share This blog post)
  5. Student Activism and Gun Control: How school leaders can respond—By listening, helping to empower, and affirming students' rights (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
  6. Student Protests: Questions and Answers: Information for teachers, principals, and district leaders about walkouts, free speech, and civic activism (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
  7. TED Talks on Activism: (a collection of videos)
  8. Today’s Student Protests: A First Amendment Teachable Moment (Newseum.org)
  9. Ways to share your students’ solutions to gun violence (PBS)

About Florida Atlantic University

FAU, opened in 1964, is part of the State University System of Florida. It is based in Boca Raton, with satellite campuses in Dania Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter and Fort Pierce. Students can choose from over 170 degree programs.

About Barb Schmidt

Bestselling book author and mindfulness and meditation teacher Barb Schmidt has over 30 years’ experience devoted to spiritual development. Her mission is to bring her mindfulness teachings to the community through her non-profit organization Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life. Since 2001, Barb partnered with FAU’s Peace Studies Program to help students cultivate a peaceful mind and lead a more peaceful life. And in a time when students all over the country are making their voices heard, FAU will be hosting the classes for high school students over the course of an academic year, on Saturdays to help students engage with her techniques for success.
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