Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE)

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The Urban Curriculum

The Urban Curriculum (UC) is a unique pedagogy developed at San Francisco State to bring community voices directly into the university classroom.
UC courses have the following characteristics:


•  Course materials combine academic theories with real-life scenarios.

•  The course includes civic engagement activities either through community service learning or community-based research.

•  Students perform service at City agencies or nonprofit organizations where they are directly exposed to the issues, challenges, and the politics of social justice and equity.

•  Class enrollment is made up of regularly matriculated SF State students, staff from community-based organizations, or community members representing the focus issue. The mix generates matter-of-fact inquiry and discussions. The dialogue provides valuable lessons that cannot be learned through books or lectures alone.

•  Expert community partners (public officials, community leaders) collaborate with SF State faculty in the design and/or delivery of the course as co-presenters or as guest lecturers.



Urban Curriculum courses currently offered are:

College Success Skills (COUN 325) This pre-requisite class for Project Rebound students helps them learn about their own behaviors and how habits are formed and can be broken. Assignments and discussions focus on self-defeating behaviors which prevent students from doing their best work, and students share skills that can maximize the positive aspects of attending college. Approximately 60 students are enrolled in Coun 325 this semester.


Empowering Poor Families (COUN / HED 280) is offered during the spring semester. In this class, Assistant Dean of Students Will Flowers uses a variety of methods to help students understand how the social and economic constructs of wealth and poverty have systematically impacted social justice, explore the urban environment in which systems of poverty and wealth operate, and the how they can create change through civic engagement and advocacy. Students perform service learning with partner organizations. Forty students are enrolled in for spring 2010; 13 are Rebound students.


Elementary Statistics (MATH 124) is taught during fall semester. The course includes an introduction to participatory research, probability, data analysis, and statistical inference. Students use reentry statistics to examine social issues about, programs for, and policies on formerly incarcerated people. Last year, 60 students completed this course; 16 of whom were from Project Rebound, and one of the Rebound students earned the highest grade in the class.


A special section of First Year Written Composition (ENG 114) was developed by English Department Lecturer Jolie Martin. Her book, Captive Audience, describes her experiences co-teaching a class with Dr. Judy Breen at San Quentin Prison through Patten University. Eng 114 trained students in expository-argumentative composition, emphasizing work on clear and effective sentences and the organization and development of paragraph and essay. Literature by prisoners about the prison experience may be used.


San Francisco Political Issues (PLSI 475 / USP 485) has been taught once each year and is currently being taught spring 2012. Currently enrollment is 50 students; three are staff from community-based nonprofits. The class explores the economic transformation of San Francisco from the end of World War II to the present, with a particular focus on the relationships between different forms of economic development, the dilemmas of affordable housing, and the transformation of San Francisco's residential and industrial neighborhoods.  The course is team-taught under the supervision of Dr. Brian Murphy, President of DeAnza College, Calvin Welch of SF Information Clearinghouse, and community leaders.


Developing and Managing Resources in Non-Profit Agencies (PA / Rec 570 ) was taught during spring semester 2009 . This course, taught by Dr. Asuncion Suren, examined how nonprofit agencies could sustain themselves through fundraising strategies, marketing, volunteer recruitment, and management so they would be able continue to provide services in their communities. Although the course continues to be offered to SF State students, it does not currently follow the urban curriculum pedagogy.


**A big thanks to WH Freeman Publishers for their generous donation of 20 complimentary copies of the textbook that were used in Math 124 last fall 2011. The donation allowed us to loan the textbook to our most disadvantaged students. It is because of partners like WH Freeman that the Institute is able to address issues of educational equity in the classroom.

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