Social Justice and Social Awareness for Students Courses

“Collage is activity-based social awareness/justice education and identity exploration. It’s sort of like social justice camp… we’re constantly doing art projects, watching short videos, reading stories together, and having conversations.”

No matter your politics, there is no question that the last several years have been especially trying times socially; debates rage daily regarding immigration, education, the right to protest, the place for guns in our society, and more. As adults, we engage in these conversations all the time, and sometimes even act on our positions – whether protesting, writing letters, volunteering, or whatever.

But what we often forget is that our children are hearing our conversations – or else are bombarded by these same debates through social media or conversations with peers. The difference is that largely, while our children may hear the basic details of a crisis or moral debate, they often don’t have anywhere near the context that we do as adults. This can lead to deep misunderstandings, arguments, bullying, and worse. We at Collage Colorado believe that many of those negative consequences can be mitigated by providing that context in a calm, safe, and moderated space.

That said, while Collage Colorado provides a number of services, courses, trainings, and classes, one of our primary goals is to provide social awareness education to students – an exploration of difficult issues and courageous conversations related to identity and society. Specifically, our classes work with primary and secondary schools to develop a safe environment and an engaging curriculum to enrich students’ understanding of themselves, and give them the tools to navigate complex social issues with confidence.

Collage Colorado’s Social Awareness courses follow an experiential learning model that exposes students to different perspectives on major social issues through group activities, multimedia artifacts, curated “field-trips” (both guided and self-guided), and more. Across all activities, students are regularly expected to reflect on their thinking and their learning, and examine their growth. Through this cycle of Experience, Exploration, and Reflection, these courageous conversations can become normalized, and integrated into students’ daily toolkits.

Essentially, the course offers activity-based social awareness/justice education and identity exploration. It’s sort of like social justice camp. We talk about intersectionality (the idea that we’re made up of lots of different identities, which can work together in different ways), big issues like race and poverty and a bit on bullying. We channel all of this through activities, though – so we’re constantly doing art projects, watching short videos, reading stories together, and having conversations.

Presently, our Social Awareness for Students courses run for 10+2 sessions (10 regular sessions with students, as well as a Parent Q&A before the series, and a Share-Out session with parents and students after the series is done). Each session runs approximately 2 hours; Collage presently runs these courses as an after-school program at Denver area schools.