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The New Public Scholarship

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Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina

Amy Koritz and George J. Sanchez, editors

Civic engagement has been underrated and overlooked. Koritz and Sanchez illuminate the power of what community engagement through art and culture revitalization can do to give voice to the voiceless and a sense of being to those displaced. ---Sonia BasSheva Mañjon, Wesleyan University "This profound and eloquent collection describes and assesses the new coalitions bringing a city back to life. It's a powerful call to expand our notions of culture, social justice, and engaged scholarship. I'd put this on my 'must read' list." ---Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University "Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina is a rich and compelling text for thinking about universities and the arts amid social crisis. Americans need to hear the voices of colleagues who were caught in Katrina's wake and who responded with commitment, creativity, and skill." ---Peter Levine, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) This collection of essays documents the ways in which educational institutions and the arts community responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. While firmly rooted in concrete projects, Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina also addresses the larger issues raised by committed public scholarship. How can higher education institutions engage with their surrounding communities? What are the pros and cons of "asset-based" and "outreach" models of civic engagement? Is it appropriate for the private sector to play a direct role in promoting civic engagement? How does public scholarship impact traditional standards of academic evaluation? Throughout the volume, this diverse collection of essays paints a remarkably consistent and persuasive account of arts-based initiatives' ability to foster social and civic renewal. Amy Koritz is Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Professor of English at Drew University. George J. Sanchez is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California. Front and rear cover designs, photographs, and satellite imagery processing by Richard Campanella. digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.

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For the Civic Good

The Liberal Case for Teaching Religion in the Public Schools

Walter Feinberg and Richard A. Layton

Why teach about religion in public schools? What educational value can such courses potentially have for students? In For the Civic Good, Walter Feinberg and Richard A. Layton offer an argument for the contribution of Bible and world religion electives. The authors argue that such courses can, if taught properly, promote an essential aim of public education: the construction of a civic public, where strangers engage with one another in building a common future. The humanities serve to awaken students to the significance of interpretive and analytic skills, and religion and Bible courses have the potential to add a reflective element to these skills. In so doing, students awaken to the fact of their own interpretive framework and how it influences their understanding of texts and practices. The argument of the book is developed by reports on the authors’ field research, a two-year period in which they observed religion courses taught in various public high schools throughout the country, from the “Bible Belt” to the suburban parkway. They document the problems in teaching religion courses in an educationally appropriate way, but also illustrate the argument for a humanities-based approach to religion by providing real classroom models of religion courses that advance the skills critical to the development of a civic public.

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Is William Martinez Not Our Brother?

Twenty Years of the Prison Creative Arts Project

Buzz Alexander

Prisons are an invisible, but dominant, part of American society: the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world, with 25 percent of the world's prisoners currently held within its borders. In Michigan, the number of prisoners rose from 3,000 in 1970 to more than 50,000 by 2008, a shift that Buzz Alexander witnessed firsthand when he came to teach at the University of Michigan. Is William Martinez Not Our Brother? describes the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), a pioneering program founded in 1990 that works with incarcerated youth and adults in Michigan juvenile facilities and prisons. Alexander recounts the genesis and evolution of this radically pragmatic and original system that begins with university courses for credit, then offers students a university-based nonprofit organization through which they may continue and deepen their practice, and finally gives them a national network as well as connections with the national movement resisting mass incarceration in this country, and with social careers in general. By giving incarcerated individuals an opportunity to participate in the arts, PCAP enables them to withstand and often overcome the conditions and culture of prison, the policies of an incarcerating state, and the consequences of mass incarceration. The book is also a deeply personal account of Alexander's long commitment to confronting the continually rising numbers of prisoners in America, his dedication as an educator, and his attempts to provide a way to reach out on a practical and emotional level to inmates. The model he describes applies to both public scholarship and everyday politics and will inspire readers in all fields. Buzz Alexander is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English Language and Literature, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, at the University of Michigan and was Carnegie National Professor of the Year in 2005.

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Learning Legacies

Archive to Action through Women's Cross-Cultural Teaching

Sarah Ruffing Robbins

Learning Legacies explores the history of cross-cultural teaching approaches, to highlight how women writer-educators used stories about their collaborations to promote community-building. Robbins demonstrates how educators used stories that resisted dominant conventions and expectations about learners to navigate cultural differences. Using case studies of educational initiatives on behalf of African American women, Native American children, and the urban poor, Learning Legacies promotes the importance of knowledge grounded in the histories and cultures of the many racial and ethnic groups that have always comprised America’s populace, underscoring the value of rich cultural knowledge in pedagogy by illustrating how creative teachers still draw on these learning legacies today.

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