The Charge: The success of the Block Plan depends on a talented and diverse student body and a dedicated, excellent faculty and staff. The CC academic endeavor for each student is greatly influenced by one’s peers. The CC experience is richer for each student when surrounded by talented and curious students from different backgrounds, cultures, and places — and with different talents and gifts.
What’s Happening: The Butler Center innovated the 1357 Institutes for Intercultural Leadership — occurring in Blocks 1, 3, 5, and 7 — beginning with the 2019-20 academic year to engage students in deeper impact learning experiences around six themes: Campus unity, coalition building, intercultural exchange, leadership development, multicultural understanding, and organizing.
“We developed this initiative around these six themes that we recognize as important learning objectives and goals from our work with various student organizations over the past five years,” says Paul Buckley, assistant vice president and director of the Butler Center. “In one way or another, students have expressed these needs or reflected on their desire for these goals in their membership development, programming, or critical reflections of their CC experience. We are hoping to dig deeper with students from any background, experience, affinity, or organization over the course of the year, using these institutes to support one of our Butler Center pillars: Empowerment.”
The institutes offer three or more hours for participants to dig deeper than a traditional 90-minute program or event affords. All participants are encouraged to share their learning with peers who were not in attendance, and the Butler Center team employs intentional outreach strategies for those who participated to sustain their engagement with the topic. “In anti-oppressive inclusion and diversity work, it is critical that students (as well as faculty and staff) are empowered to engage in this work,” says Buckley.
The Block 1 institute, “From Moments to Movements: The Power of Community Activism, and Organizing,” focused on organizing for social change with nationally renowned activists Rosa Clemente and JLove. Participants learned specific organizing skills and insights and the program was a collaboration with the Department of Sociology.
In Block 3, “The Circle Experience” institute involved a racially diverse group of students engaging in deep dialogue and storytelling about race and racism, with a goal of cross-racial coalition building for antiracist work. “We hope to engage students in a powerful experience that validates their voices, helps facilitate deep connections, and strengthens their commitment to antiracist work,” says Buckley.
Coming up in Block 5, the institute participants will engage in an intercultural exchange project through the medium of film and theatre, featuring playwright and former CC professor Idris Goodwin. Block 7’s institute will be a retreat for student leaders and aspiring change makers who identify with at least one of the following groups: African American/Black; Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander; Indigenous/Native/Native American; and/or Latinx.
Buckley says he and his team are excited about continuing the 1357 Institutes and creating new partnerships with interested members of the campus community.