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UNC class studies social change through service with The Marian Cheek Jackson Center

A UNC class is partnering with The Marian Cheek Jackson Center through APPLES Service-Learning to focus on social change and globalization. 

Paradigms of Development and Social Change, taught by UNC Global Studies professor Michal Osterweil, requires 30 hours of service with a community partner. She got the idea for the course after teaching several classes critiquing globalization and development. Students would often ask how they could create social change if globalization was not a viable solution. Paradigms of Development and Social Change was created when she decided to address those concerns.

"The class originated and emerged out of other courses I was teaching," Osterweil said. "I teach about globalization and social movements and development, and students were writing me after graduating or just after the class and saying, 'Oh my God, I learned so much in your classes, and they were very critical of development and the kinds of things we traditionally do to help.'"

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center is in the Northside neighborhood, and focuses on honoring the history of and building community in the neighborhood.

Osterweil developed the syllabus with the Jackson Center in mind as a service partner, as well as other service projects her students were currently working on. The Jackson Center has a strong model of sustainable service that seeks to address the root of problems, she said. 

“I really think of the Jackson Center as helping to teach this class," Osterweil said. "The models they use are a really important piece of it for me.”

Her students value the emphasis on service, and many come in with previous service experience. Senior global studies and geography major Carly Michelakis said she's thinking about entering the Peace Corp or volunteering abroad. 

Michelakis was interested in Paradigms of Development and Social Change after taking previous global studies classes with Osterweil. She values ethical service and wanted to take the class as an opportunity to recognize sustainable service opportunities.

"I want to make sure if I'm going into the service sector, I want to have a good approach on the way organizations serve in an ethical way or a good way, and be aware of the things I'm applying to, as a senior," Michelakis said.

Michelle Peedin, a UNC graduate and global studies major, found direction in her career after taking GLBL 401. She currently works at the North Carolina Council of Churches with environmental and health advocacy.

“I do credit all of my global studies classes with wanting to do direct service with marginalized populations, but the right way," Peedin said. "Not just fixing the problem, you know, but going in and really asking what the problem is, what can I do, and how can we partner together to make this a better place for you and I."


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