Projects & Diaries
This archive of student work showcases the action plans, reflection papers, and privilege diaries of former students. We thank them for sharing the visions and realities of the work they have done to challenge interlocking systems of privilege and oppression including racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and ablism. We encourage you to take a look – these are intended to be a source of inspiration and ideas for ongoing and future action projects.
We will be adding to this archive on an ongoing basis. Please contact Teach.Learn.Change. if you are interested in having your work considered for inclusion in this archive.
NEW Action Project: Consent: Because I Am Human Video Project
Violence against women – so loaded, so emotional, so hurtful and painful, so systemic, so institutional and condoned, dare I say even celebrated? When we embraced on creating a video that dealt with consent and bystander education, it was important that we didn’t just simply inform our audience what consent was. We wanted to include our audience. We wanted them to be part of the production. What’s the best way to grasp an audience’s attention and have them actually listen to your message? You include them – and that’s what we did.
In this paper, Awad critically reflects on the many fundraisers and action projects he organized as head of the Historical Studies Society at the University of Toronto, Mississauga (including his participation with the UTM Women’s Centre campaign called “Walk 5 Minutes in Her Shoes”). Though Awad argues that you cannot force change on others, his actions show that you can definitely ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ and motivate others to take action.
Why do any of these (Heritage, Choice, Status) matter in the context of my daily interactions? Why is the colour of one’s skin important? When is diversity important to recognize? When is our commonality important to highlight? These are all questions I have begun asking myself prior to taking this course. What I never looked at, however, was the force that posits itself behind one of these categories that enables an individual or group to feel superior to others? POWER.
I am a politics professor who has taken time off work due to disability. At loose ends as school began without me, I decided to do something I have never done: engage in one of my own assignments – the privilege diary. This article looks critically at my diary entries about the politics of education and healthcare. Challenging tradition, it includes comments I have received from former students when they ‘graded’ my diary. It is a lesson about the importance of thinking critically about the powers we see operating in our lives, the need to challenge each other’s blank spots, and ideas for how to take action.
Jaffer reflects on how to take action to address diverse women’s safety concerns on campus. She provides critical analysis on the process of conducting safety audits and the ways we can build on each other’s work to increase safety on campus and in our communities. She argues that physical safety is an interconnected issue and this is why we must employ a multidimensional, contextual framework to develop solidarity with the cause, the group and the larger society, while also simultaneously counteracting the upcoming challenges collectively.
I decided to create an activity book to understand how privilege operates in my life. It reflects how my analysis of power and privilege in society is challenging and how I am actively involved in engaging with forms of privilege and oppression in some way everyday. I used a format similar to a child’s learning activity book, because for me this was not only a reiteration of what I already knew, but also a learning process. After each activity, I have an activity analysis sheet, which is like an “answer sheet” which is informally written. I took a creative spin with some of the activities which symbolically represents my struggle to deconstruct my own identity. Enjoy!
I never fully thought of a concrete way to link the issues of interlocking systems of oppression to my everyday life. Yes, In my understanding of the different hierarchies during my learning, I was able to draw examples of different situations of oppression in order to relate and see myself in the works of bell hooks, Edward Said, and other scholars. But it has never allowed me to conceptualize EVERYTHING, and see where I’m situated within this matrix, and how in my day-to-day life, this matrix becomes fluid, and morphs as I encounter different social factors in my life.
This paper reflects the journey of one student who attempted to recreate society’s definition of beauty with four other students. After creating an art exhibit that showcased various forms of beauty, it was quickly learned that a small event can be the first step in initiating change. Even after the art exhibit was completed, the real task was to discover how we can continue to gear our actions so that they can contribute to change.
I was born with a certain set of allotted characteristics, both created and perceived through physiological and sociological means. These characteristics have shaped my life before I even had the opportunity to shape it via my thoughts, actions, and character. I am a heterosexual, “white”, male‐bodied human being. As a result of this, I have essentially hit the privilege jackpot, were it to be seen as a competition. Unpacking what Peggy McIntosh has coined as “the invisible backpack of white privilege”, I have found myself reassessing the role that such an identity plays in my advantages and disadvantages in society. (McIntosh, 1988)
Using the method of the privilege diary, Purdon examines how interlocking systems of power and oppression structure her life.
This article reflects on a workshop delivered to experiment with democratic and other non-traditional methods of learning within the classroom. It makes a strong case, from students’ perspectives, for disrupting the normal teacher/professor-centered structure of classroom learning. It also speaks to the importance of purposeful political discussions and the role of power in the classroom.
Ritchie proposes a group action project that would aim to create a non-capitalist, non-hierarchical community for the reciprocal donation of personal attributes and material goods.
In this reflection paper, Ritchie critically analyzes the politics and challenges of envisioning and enacting new models of community based on a ‘gift economy’.
I can easily identify myself with female, white, middle-class, heterosexual, young, and able. I have often felt the urge to challenge these categories as I have always disliked being labeled but I have never before viewed these categories as a privilege, especially one that takes away from those who are not placed in the same category. I felt in order for me to understand this idea of privilege and its axis of oppression, I would have to seriously analyze what I may be taking for granted in my everyday life, while especially keeping in mind that what may seem “normal” and “natural” to me is often not for other people.
Within this essay, I will discuss examples I have seen in my life of privilege or lack thereof. I will analyze these experiences by observing the power dynamics at work, my implication in the situations I present, and how I can challenge these privileges. The examples of privilege that I present will revolve around experiences with my partner, work, school and society’s conceptions of beauty.
In this reflection paper, Syed details the ‘Transit Town Hall’ that her and her partner organized on campus.
Tkacz proposes a group project that challenges the ‘miseducation’ of students by the education system. According to Tkacz, the students produced by this system have absorbed hegemonic discourses that accommodate systems of domination. In the short term, the goals of the action are: consciousness raising, empowering students, and possibly building a coalition. In order to achieve these goals our approach will to be multilevel including a curriculum audit as well as a student campaign.