Educators Realize the Potential of Collaboration through the Exchange of Human Rights Curriculum

Lauren Arce (l), a peace studies major at San Diego City College, with Katie Zanoni (r)
Lauren Arce (l), a peace studies major at San Diego City College, with Katie Zanoni (r)

The Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative (SHREI) aims to bring together community college faculty with Stanford faculty specializing in International Studies, Human Rights, and International and Cross-Cultural Education to inspire new curriculum around the theme of human rights.

SHREI staff just completed the third year of successfully facilitating a model of bringing together America’s democracy colleges with one of the top research institutions in the nation. This model is innovative, effective and demonstrates a powerful collaboration in higher education. The scope of this initiative reaches community college professors through the fellowship opportunity, the annual educator symposium and the student award project designed to recognize outstanding academic performance. Multiple stakeholders are invited into the conversation on how to develop, deliver, and assess sound curriculum to address the needs our students. SHREI faculty and staff demonstrate a welcoming demeanor and maintain an open-door policy to exchange ideas on curricular content and pedagogical strategies. By connecting the community college system to a four-year academic institution an invaluable network is created. This world of higher education is one that ought to be shared in a common space of integration and collaboration.

Faculty representing a variety of disciplines coming together around a theme such as human rights facilitates a rich conversation that results in the following sustainable outcomes.

  • Curriculum development: Educators participating in the fellowship are empowered to develop curricula that is of utmost quality due to the increased resources offered through Stanford.
  • Peer-reviewed curriculum: Through the process of sharing and reviewing curriculum during the development phase, educators are able to assess the content in a critical way and produce curricular materials that have been reviewed by professionals in the field.
  • Interdisciplinary exchange: The interdisciplinary theme based approach offers educators an opportunity to engage in the content of their classes through a different lens. This provokes creativity that results in the application of new content and teaching methods that can be crafted into existing syllabi for classes in disciplines such as English, Peace Studies or Political Science.
  • Articulation agreements: While many community college students may complete their education with an associate degree, others continue on to four-year academic institutions. Through conversations about related content taught at the community college and four-year institutions, a stronger case can be presented for courses to be articulated from the California Community College system to four-year institutions.
  • Network development: Fostering a network of like-minded educators is not only refreshing, but also invigorating. As 2012-2013 Fellow, Alison Shelling stated, “I have found my tribe.” This sense of community among educators is essential in supporting one another to advance one’s potential to achieve excellence in the classroom.

Education is the foundation for change. This model emulates the possibilities that exist when the collaborative spirit of exchange is among the core principles of a project. The ripple effect of change that occurs when educators within multiple levels of higher education come together will positively impact our nation’s educational system. Stanford has paved the path for this partnership which will no doubt benefit all of the stakeholders involved, mostly the students we serve every day.

The  Human Rights curriculum developed by the 2012-2013 SHREI Fellows can be found here.

The application process is now open for the 2013-2014 SHREI Fellowship. Please visit this website to apply.

This blog was written by  Katie Zanoni, Community College Educator and SHREI Fellow 2012-2013

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