Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Inaugural Kresge Collaborative Learning Course Offered Again this Winter

by Kristin Carlson, Provost's Sustainability Intern for Common Ground Center

This Fall Quarter, Kresge's Common Ground Center has been busy hosting visionary speakers and heart centered dialogue around cultivating a relationship with nature during this time of great turning. Our Collaborative Learning class, hosting 120 students plus community members, has been ripe with transformative ideas and authentic connections. 

Our class book Active Hope, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, shined the theme of "The Great Turning" which helped us examine our active role in how the future plays out. Anne Symens-Bucher and Adelaja Simon, who work closely with Joanna Macy, led one of our classes in the Work That Reconnects, a blue print for change by being in gratitude, honoring your pain, seeing with new eyes and going forth.

Later in the quarter we welcomed Jon Young, of the 8 Shields Culture Mentoring program, to speak about how to repair our culture through nature connection and the importance of the human/nature relationship that humans relied on and thrived within before our technological age of disconnection. We had many chances to head outside together, into the beautiful nature that UCSC is embedded in, and practice some of these nature connection techniques. Palika Benton, trained in the work of Bill Plotkin and The Animas Institute, sent us out on a nature walk, in search of a connection imbued in our DNA, but long forgotten by modern humans. 

In taking the 5-unit version of the course, there was the opportunity to participate in a Community Action Team (CAT), which allowed for the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a meaningful subject related to the course. Examples of Fall quarters' CATs were: Nature Mentoring for Children with the Riekes Center at the UCSC Arboretum; Sustainable Community and Conscious Living with the Kresge EcoVillage; Food & Water Watch Hub (Take Back the Tap, Anti-Fracking and Anti-GMO); Santa Cruz Sierra Club; The World CafĂ©, The Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter; Transition Towns with Transition Santa Cruz; People Power of Santa Cruz County; and World View Transformation through Meditation and Neuroscience.

As one example of opportunities available to students in the course, students from the UCSC Food & Water Watch Hub Community Action Team joined the Santa Cruz Sierra Club for a trip to Hollister, CA to canvas in support of Measure J, which bans fracking, cyclic steam injection, and acidizing in San Benito County. After a brief training at the Measure J headquarters, students set out for the neighborhoods with organizers from the campaign and an employee of the Food & Water Watch Organization. They spoke with community members, passed out information and lawn signs, and encouraged the community to protect their air, land, and quality of life by voting yes on Measure J. On November 4, the San Benito Community overwhelmingly voted in support of the ban on fracking.

One student shared: "This class has given me a hope that we have the power to change the world. I have started thinking that I really want to do something meaningful with my life. I learned that there are other individuals and organizations out there that I can connect with and make a difference."

All of these experiences, with the potential to be so profound and meaningful, are offered here, on our campus, at the Kresge Town Hall with the Common Ground Center. If you are called to add another layer of depth to your education at UCSC, we highly recommend that you join us for our next class in Winter and/or Spring quarters. 

Our theme for Winter Quarter is sustainable communities, with a focus on social justice, economic viability, and ecological sustainability. Spring will take us outside, hands in the dirt, as we learn to envision and create through the eyes of permaculture. 

Videos from class this Fall quarter are available on our YouTube page and our Common Ground Page; check it out to see an example of what is in store for next quarter! Our Collaborative Learning class time has changed for those of you who participated this fall. In Winter Quarter, it will be offered Tue/Thu 2:00 - 3:45 PM (tentatively), and it can be taken as a 2-unit course (Kresge-73) or a 5-unit course (Kresge-173).
Learn more about the course here.

We will be accepting 120 students each quarter, and in addition, are looking for 12-16 course assistants to help in leading the class. To apply as a course assistant or find out more information please email the Common Ground Center. We can also be found on Facebook and NING, for continued dialogue and community participation. We hope to see you all where our Common Ground meets.

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