9 learning experiences focused on police brutality, social justice and free speech you can take right now

people marching in black lives matter protest
Photo courtesy of Anthony Crider | Flickr

Parnia Mazhar, Communications Writing Fellow

Horrific acts committed against Black people have sparked a widespread wave of public action. People are using their voices to express frustration and enact change, showing the vast potential of civic engagement and community organizing. We have compiled a list of nine Michigan Online learning experiences you can take to gain a deeper insight into social justice, equity, and how to enact social change.

Michigan Online contains more than 180 learning experiences and is available free to University of Michigan students, faculty, staff, and alumni. For students, it is a place to take courses, participate in Teach-Outs, and earn degrees, all from the comfort of their own homes. These courses and Teach-Outs bring together experts from within U-M and beyond to help learners understand their civil rights and how to make a difference in their communities. 

Creating Social Change in Your Community

  1. Police Brutality in America Teach-Out explores the history of policy violence in America, the laws and policies that prevent accountability. It also highlights the demands of those protesting and features knowledge and tools you can use to fight for change locally
  2. Community Organizing for Social Justice explores enacting social change by forming core groups, building capacity, and reaching out to constituents and allies. The course draws on examples of community organizing seen within the Detroit metropolitan area.  
  3. Storytelling for Social Change teaches  you how to impact society through the art of storytelling. Stories are a vehicle for building empathy and spreading awareness about vital issues. This course provides professional performances and interviews with storytelling experts who share their own experiences. By the end of the course, you will also have the opportunity to create your own story for social change. 
  4. Finding Common Ground Teach-Out explores the importance of listening to different perspectives and ideologies, especially about culture, politics, and the economy., This Teach-Out highlights the necessity of moving beyond societal partisanship and polarization. You learn how to effectively work with diverse groups, and how to find common ground or build it  where it does not exist.
  5. Free Speech on Campus Teach-Out helps you understand the role of free speech within universities and across the country.  This Teach-Out is a great resource for anyone looking to get a better understanding of free speech and society’s different perspectives on the subject.
  6. Free Speech in Sport Teach-Out explores the expression of the First Amendment when it comes to sports. Learners discuss whether sports are an appropriate vehicle for social and political activism and the potential implications of free speech when it comes to professional athletics. As today’s athletes and sports organizations use their platforms to speak up about societal injustice, a debate has emerged about whether it is better to “stick to sports.”.
  7. Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack Certificate  helps you inspire individuals and communities around you by enacting positive societal change. Through this MasterTrack, you will have a greater understanding of social work practice, an awareness of the history and impact of policy on key social services, and an appreciation for the research that supports effective practice.
  8. Leading for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education improves leadership skills and promotes an inclusive environment within educational institutions.  Participants learn the historical narrative of institutions and how to effectively lead in a way that supports people of all backgrounds. 
  9. Civil Rights in the Trump Era Teach-Out explores the true meaning behind “civil rights” in its moderns and historical contexts. This Teach-Out focuses first on the history behind civil rights during the Reconstruction era. Learners then explore the civil rights aspects of health care and immigration in today’s society, focusing on President Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban on seven countries. This Teach-Out concludes with a call to action for you: How will you participate as our nation defines our rights?

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