School-Community social justice projects
In place-based education, schools can help their communities in a variety of ways that address issues of social justice.
These can include activities such as:
These can include activities such as:
- Fund-raising for a non-governmental service organization. Try to find an organization that offers some possibility of direct contact with your students to explain why they do what they do and how they put funds to work. It is always advisable to investigate what percentage of funds is actually applied to their specific charitable works and how much is used for administration. Where possible, find out if there exists a Catholic organization.
- Collecting material that will be re-distributed to those in need by a non-governmental service organization (e.g. used clothing, furniture, basic health care items, non-perishable food, school supplies). While it is not always possible for your students to have direct contact with the recipients of such aid, such encounters, when they are respectful of the situations of the marginalized, can effectively raise consciousness of the needs of others.
- Identify an issue that is properly addressed in the political arena. It is particularly useful to work with an issue that has both local and global implications (e.g. access to safe drinking water; use of child labour; availability of renewable sources of energy; waste management; war and peace).
- Research the issue, making direct contact with reputable and, where possible, Catholic organizations already at work in this area.
- Investigate whether it is possible to participate in a political campaign that has already started. If that is not possible, consider how some of the following strategies might be relevant to the particular cause:
- Letter writing campaigns (politicians, corporate executives)
- Write letters to the editor (local and national)
- Send a delegation to meet with your local politicians and/or other relevant people
- Ask your pastor for permission to address the issue at weekend Masses
- Public petition
- Contact political parties to find out where they stand on an issue and, where they have not taken a (favourable) stand, attempt to influence their policy
- Get involved in election campaigns (e.g. organize all candidates meetings, survey candidates positions on the issue and publish their responses)
- Create and distribute information pamphlets and/or posters
- Organize a school assembly, public meeting, rally or march
- Design and wear identifiable symbols that will draw attention to the issue (e.g. buttons, coloured ribbons)
- Organize a debate involving the various players related to your issue
- Help those without a voice to be heard by inviting them to your school and/or creating a public venue for them
- Network with other groups, especially student groups, working on the same issue
- Design a web page that provides information and strategies related to your issue
- Issue press releases to gain news coverage of symbolic actions that will involve your school community (e.g. 40 hour fast, "Die-ins")
- Organize a vigil in front of your school that will draw public attention to an issue over a longer period of time (e.g. small group of students stand with placards for 15 minutes every lunch hour)
- Investigate whether the policies and practices of your school are consistent with the stand you are promoting on the issue and, where it is not, work to change those policies and/or practices
- Understand that some issues are likely to generate debate within your own school community as well. This is not a bad thing where it contributes to the raising of people's consciousness. Make certain, however, that your School Council, parents/guardians and staff have an opportunity to discuss the issue before younger students become involved. In all things, make certain that members of your school community, particularly the students, are appropriately involved