The Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion

Anti-Racism Institute Pedagogy

We strive to imbue antiracism and compassion approaches into all the courses we teach for the university.

 

Contact us if you would like us to facilitate a conversation in your department.

Courses

In this course, we will explore the evolution of “race” and racism in the United States, with a particular focus on Maine. To do so, we will draw upon a variety of disciplines including literature, history, law, sociology, cartography, and art. We will explore the dynamic power relationships that are engendered and sustained by American legal, literary, and cultural practices, charting the conversations about “race” as they emerge in literature, art, and social discourse. As our course texts demonstrate, “race” is not a stable identity categorization; rather, it is an ideological framework through which power and domination, liberation and self-determination are articulated, enacted, and mediated. We will incorporate perspectives from a variety of writers, theorists, artists, and activists. 

 

Throughout the semester, we will work to cultivate an antiracist approach to our materials. As Ibram X. Kendi writes, “being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination” (23). Following Kendi’s lead, we will explore how racism and white supremacy shape our own perspectives. Utilizing the Racial Equity Institute’s “groundwater analogy” framework, we will explore the ways that our society is intentionally structured to create, uphold, and exacerbate racial inequity. As we study the effects of racist structures and policies, we will focus on ways to remediate and eradicate racism in our lives. 

Over the past few decades, the study of comics has become a lively field of interdisciplinary inquiry. The growing popularity of this genre is perhaps clearest in the ascendance of events like Comic-Con, the Hollywoodization of superhero comics, and by the commercial and critical success of the graphic novel. Once marginalized, comics, graphic novels and other forms of what Will Eisner calls “sequential art” are becoming increasingly mainstream. Graphic novels like Maus, Persepolis, Jimmy Corrigan, American Born Chinese, Fun Home, etc. are now standard items on high school and university syllabi. 

 

This course invites students to explore the field of Comics Studies, with a particular focus on the graphic novel. We will consider texts from a variety of genres (including memoir, fiction, fantasy, journalism), perspectives, and contexts. In particular, we will consider how graphic and sequential artists use the form to bring marginal voices to the center, and we will consider what particular aspects of sequential art lend themselves to marginalized individuals and stories. Students will have opportunities to learn theories and approaches in Comics Studies, and to create graphic and sequential art of their own.

This class will introduce students to the emerging literature that documents how Nature can make us healthier, happier and more creative. Students will learn contemplative practices that invite them to explore the natural world in a more “felt” way. This practice of embodied-ness will be the basis from which we learn to practice “deep listening,” and “bearing witness.” One of the fundamental modalities of this class will be to practice “beginner’s mind.” This state allows us to view the world through “fresh senses” and thus can be a way to access our creative potential. The beginner’s mind can also be insightful when discussing complex social and political problems. In summary, the course will invite students to “be” in nature in an experiential way and invite them to drop their default ways of thinking (i.e. evoke beginner’s mind), practice “presence,” and offer short trainings to help deepen the practice of compassion. No previous experience with the natural world is necessary – curiosity and bug spray are the only essentials!