Graduate Exchange Program

2016-17 Projects

Speak Up: Public Speaking and Tactical Argumentation for Community Justice
KC Councilor, Meg Rooney, Marissa Fernholz (Communication Arts)

Community Partner: TBA

Our project is a series of public speaking and tactical argumentation workshops for young people in Madison. Our weekly workshops will provide students with a space to learn practical approaches to speaking and argumentation, to identify issues that matter most to them, and to confidently communicate their experiences to their peers, their communities, and to policymakers. We believe that strong communication skills empower young people to make an impact in their own worlds—from speaking up in class to writing a letter to their Senator or testifying at a community meeting. Currently Dane County is home to stark racial disparities, particularly in terms of education and life chances for young people (Race to Equity Report). Our target audience is young people (ranging from middle school to high school) from underserved areas of Dane County. We hope to help equip the young people directly impacted by an unjust system to communicate their experiences and argue for policies that would positively impact their lives.

Baldwin's Heirs: Police and Black Lives in American Literature
Sarah Dimick (English)
Community Partner: Madison Police Department

In the midst of public mourning and outrage over the killings of young black Americans by law enforcement officers, Baldwin’s Heirs gathers officers from the Madison Police Department together with high school and college students of color to read about police work and black lives in American literature. Discussing writers ranging from James Baldwin to Ta-Nehisi Coates to Claudia Rankine, this group reflects on convictions about race, ideas of justice, and what public safety in the twenty-first century ultimately requires. Baldwin’s Heirs intends to serve as a forum for community restoration and the affirmation of black life.

The Warrior Book Club: A Veteran's Reading Group
Molly Harris (Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies)
Community Partner: Wisconsin Veterans Museum

The Warrior Book Club brings Madison area veterans together for monthly discussions about a variety of literature. This fall, the group will explore the theme of deployment in three works: Sophocles’ play Philoctetes, Tim O’Brian’s novel The Things they Carried, and Phil Klay’s collection of short stories, Redeployment. Beginning with an episode from the ancient and semi-mythical Trojan War and moving to accounts of contemporary wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the group will explore a wealth of ideas within these narratives: god(s) and fate; loyalty and relationships between comrades; and the value—or lack thereof—placed on honor, justice, and heroism. The Warrior Book Club aims to enrich participants’ perspectives toward both the ancient and modern worlds and build community between veterans.

A Roof Over My Head: Housing Precarity in Madison 
Vanessa Lauber (English)
Community Partner: Tenant Resource Center

Although Madison has less than 48 percent of the county’s population, it houses 73 percent of the county’s extremely low-income renter households, leading to extreme need for affordable housing. This project will develop a series of podcasts in conjunction with the Tenant Resource Center to give voice to those whose lives are affected by Madison’s current housing crisis, and to develop alternate ways of communicating tenant rights to the Madison community. The aim of this year-long podcast series is to distill information regarding the state of Madison housing regulation, development, and rights through interviews with community members, activists, and legislators.

When I go to College do the students look like me? An exploration of College Choice for African American Girls
Jamila L. Lee-Johnson (Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis)
Community Partner: LaFollette High School

This project will give African African (Black) girls the opportunity to prepare for life after high school. Participants will be involved in workshops that will discuss their educational experiences thus far, as well develop new goals for after high school. The project will focus on assisting the girls with college choice and providing them with steps in preparation for college. The participants will create a research question(s) that answers that will be answered using methods such as workshops, interviews, focus groups, and photo voice. Based on these things, the goal will be to help develop a model and or possible solutions that can be used for future students around college pre-disposition and graduation from high school.

Close-Knit: The Transformative Potential of Craft in Communities 
Rae Moors (Gender and Women's Studies)
Community Partner: The Bubbler, Madison Public Library

Close-Knit is an after-school group that seeks to bring together adolescents through collaborative crafting. Using skill-based crafting techniques—such as knitting, embroidery, and felting—this project encourages participants to examine how these practical and expressive forms of art can create and spread happiness and positivity in their communities. Participants will learn basic crafting skills, work with other participants to reflect on how crafting generates happiness and positivity through creative expression, and collaborate as a group to plan a "community craftivism" event that engages the community in these expressions. Participants will leave with the skills necessary to continue making practical crafts and the ability to reflect on the importance of craft and creative expression in community-building and daily life.