(The Engagement Lab supports the following: Chrome 57+ (70+ on mobile), Firefox 53+, Safari 10+, Edge 16+, iOS 10.3+.)
To Be Heard is a course that combines creativity and social justice. Students work in partnership with Beheard.World, a Boston-based non-profit that uses film and performing arts to amplify the voices of the underrepresented and tell their stories. Students taking this course support and promote the organization and explore their own creative interests and talents.
Students are challenged to approach social injustice critically, to view the effects of racism and discrimination through different perspectives. This is a chance to really think about how racism plays a part in society—sociologically, ecologically, politically, economically, and beyond. You are encouraged to look at the world around you, in pop culture, policy, or technology, and recognize how social injustice impacts these spaces.
By working with Beheard.World, you have a chance to become part of something bigger. You can help a local organization become a major player in the social activism world. Even just by creating a potential promotional campaign, you are advocating for those who have been silenced, while learning how to collaborate with an organization in real-world situations.
Art is universal, adaptable, and leaves ample room for exploration—exploration of a culture, of society, of oneself. To Be Heard students have the opportunity to be creative in real time and see their work have a real-world effect.
In Spring 2021, due to COVID-19, in-person collaboration with Beheard.World was limited, but that was just another obstacle for the class to overcome. One of the purposes of this course for instructor Thomas Vogel is to encourage students to identify and explore their creative process, whatever that may mean for them. Understanding your creative process and how you best work is critical, especially now since many of us are unable to work in traditional ways.
Students have developed a curriculum centered on “Together -- 6 Feet Apart,” a short film by Beheard.World that documents a performance the organization developed in the summer of 2020, under the limits of COVID-19. The curriculum was geared toward two main audiences: 1. High school students in affluent environments acquiring new knowledge and insights about social and racial injustice and interested in meeting with peers from different cultural backgrounds and from outside their own communities; 2. Older white individuals with an interest in learning about social and racial injustice in order to shift their own perception and become active agents for change toward a more just world.
Members of Behard World, dancers, poets, choreographers, filmmakers and educators, as well as the students in To Be Heard collaboratively created a course syllabus, lesson plan, class exercises, and study and discussion guides. In addition, students produced marketing material to promote the film and a three-hour seminar. This kind of work will continue, as Beheard.World is currently in the process of developing additional seminars and workshops that will provide an educational experience about racism for corporations and organizations.
To Be Heard is a course that is ever changing as the landscape of social justice is rarely still. You will practice adaptability, social awareness, and collaboration throughout, and hopefully after, this class.