Rhodes College
Mellon Innovation Fellowship Program

EDUC 265: Social Change and Digital Media

Zac Casey
Assistant Professor of Educational Studies
2016-2017 Fellow

In this course, students engage in research on critical social issues and use this research to create videos that aim to pedagogically communicate critical information. Working on and off campus, students will design projects that cut across disciplines, and with support of their professor(s) and other members of the community of practice, create online resources that can be shared across campus and beyond.

EDUC 265: Social Change and Digital Media incorporates a number of substantial shifts from traditional undergraduate Educational Studies courses. The course relies on digital videos as the primary assignments, that necessitate a different approach to assessment from typical analytical essays. Further, the course design sees students, in groups, selecting social change initiatives and facilitating classroom activities and discussions.  Students choose texts, how they will take them up with their peers and instructor in class, and also design assessment measures for both the group video and the whole-class video, which centers on sexual assault, consent, and Title IX.

Digital technologies are central to this course.  Every student in the course is working with digital tools: cameras, editing software, web-based file management, and more.  The videos themselves are sharable beyond the confines of Rhodes campus, and offer significant value beyond traditional course papers in other Educational Studies courses.  Students are gaining skills in filming, editing, staging, sound, and a host of other critical 21st century skills.

The course projects focus on issues that are broader in scope and scale than the social realities of Rhodes campus.  Students are focusing on macro-level initiatives like immigration that touch lives at an international level, as well as issues of food justice and queer rights that substantially impact the local Memphis community.  The videos produced will become useful tools both for those on and off campus to support further organizing and intervention in our oppressive social order.

This project responds to an immediate need felt both on campus and off. Presently, the Rhodes campus community is struggling with the complexities and violence of sexual assault. It is also engaged in efforts at combating white supremacy and racism, heteronormativity, transphobia, ableism, and a host of other critically important social issues. Oppression exists and persists inside and outside of the gates of Rhodes College. If we are sincere in our desires to be anti-oppressive and to use our work in college classrooms to affect a more just social reality, we must consider creating curriculum and coursework that engages these issues in their immediate and present context(s). This requires close collaborative work with those in our city and in the wider community. Social Change and Digital Media was designed to respond to these immediate needs, and began in January of 2017.  While our work is ongoing, we have already established a powerful and collaborative classroom community that we will seek to grow as our projects increasingly take us off campus and into the wider Memphis community.

Currently, the course is at the halfway point of the semester, and the students are presently working to finish a class-wide video focusing on sexual assault, consent, and Title IX.  Following its completion, the class will turn to student-initiated social change projects.  By the end of the semester, the class will have at least five web-based videos that can be shared across campus and beyond to support initiatives to create a more just and equitable social reality at Rhodes, in Memphis, and in our world.

It is Professor Casey’s hope that this course will be offered again in future, but more importantly, that the videos produced have an impact on others struggling for justice.  The course approach is explicitly pedagogical: the class aims to educate through the media it is producing. Thus, course participants hope that others will be able to make use of these videos, which will be made freely available, to support ongoing work on similar initiatives and issues.

Zac Casey
Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

Dr. Casey's research interests include multicultural education, critical whiteness studies, teacher education, and critical pedagogy.