Students

Think. Reflect. Engage.

Stay ahead of your peers and develop and enhance the cultural competency skills employers seek in a 21st century workforce.

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Students listening to a lecture at VCU's Monroe Park campus

Why take a course?

Effect Change

Whether it’s at VCU or in your community, aspire to learn and take action.

Attain Portable Skills

Employers not only need talented workers, but those who have a diverse and inclusive mindset.

Access to Faculty

Enroll in unique short-courses, engage them on current events and gain hands-on experience.

Pop-up Courses

The pop-up course program engages students in “hot topic” sessions that promote their critical thinking, engagement and reflection. The courses are informal and interdisciplinary, extracurricular and non-credit bearing. The program also provides teaching and research faculty the opportunity to interact with students in settings beyond the traditional classroom. A pop-up course consists of three 90-minute sessions across consecutive weeks. Each short course will have a unique delivery method and location, which may include classrooms, coffee shops, farms, laboratories, parks, public transportation systems, museums, neighborhoods and rooftops.

SC0253 FOOD INSECURITY

This pop-up course is an exploration of current issues related to food insecurity, particularly focusing on the concept of “ability to access” nutritious food, and specific to low income older adults living in Richmond city. Using a holistic and interprofessional approach, the course will encourage students to engage and reflect on notions around food deserts, food justice, racial equity within a historical context, as well as to examine the impact of current changes in public services (public transportation) on the ability to access adequate food. The ultimate goal of the course is to build awareness and understanding of factors influencing food insecurity in a subgroup of the population with whom students are less likely to interact. The course meets for three consecutive 90-minute sessions in three different sites, including the Richmond Health and Wellness Program (RHWP).


SC1155 #HASHTAG ACTIVISM: THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL ACTION

“#Hashtag Activism” is an interdisciplinary and intersectional course that enables students to examine the impact and power of social media platforms as it pertains to activism, advocacy, and engagement. People and organizations are using social media to spread ideas and gain support for their causes at outstanding levels. Some of the recent memorable moments have been #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #WomensMarch. In many ways, activism has evolved from the physical march or protest to online advocacy using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook while using a hashtag. The hashtag phenomena has been used to organize and mobilize protest efforts, to share stories, to connect the communities, and potentially to drive change. This course will examine and critique the #Hashtag Activism movement by looking closely at key campaigns and examine the impact of activism that takes place in the realm of social media.


SC1126 HIDDEN VOICES: THE WOMEN OF BLACK LIVES MATTER

As we embark on a journey to foster a university atmosphere of diversity and inclusion, it is important to understand and champion the activism of those whose marginalized voices continue to be unrecognized and unheard. As such, this course will examine the work of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and critique the patriarchal erasure of the black women’s efforts and voices – those that spearheaded the movement as well as the marginalized victims of the dehumanization that have been deleted from the movement – the black women, queer, trans, and disabled persons whose stories remain untold.

 


SC1051 I’M COMING OUT

This course explores the tensions surrounding issues of outness and visibility for LGBTQ+ people. Visibility is often considered critical for increasing awareness of and social acceptance for LGBTQ+ individuals, as it serves to disrupt and decenter cisnormative and heteronormative assumptions. However, this framework places the responsibility for being out and visible on individual LGBTQ+ while simultaneously ignoring the concrete risks associated with visibility. As such, this course explores how LGBTQ+ individuals navigate visibility, particularly in regard to issues of representation and presentation, and in relation to social spaces and institutions.


SC1119 PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE THROUGH DIGITAL STORYTELLING

This course introduces digital storytelling as a tool to promote social justice. During this pop-up course, students will have the opportunity to learn: how digital stories can be leveraged to promote social justice and encourage change; appropriate techniques, skills, and ethics necessary for creating social justice oriented stories; and introductory skills needed to capture, record, and create a digital story. As part of this course, the class will explore sites along the Richmond Slave Trail and capture images and video of those sites to create a digital story. The images and reflections collected during this experience can then be used to create a digital story.


SC1139 REDUCING BIAS IN HEALTHCARE: HOW YOU CAN IMPROVE PATIENT OUTCOMES

This pop-up course is meant to be an introduction to privilege and bias and their impact on health outcomes. Students will gain appreciation for the importance of becoming culturally sensitive healthcare providers and recognize the impact that bias and privilege has on the patient-provider relationship. The course will introduce evidence-based strategies to reduce bias and improve communication with patients. Students will be encouraged to commit to lifelong learning by continually evaluating one's own biases and experiences, addressing imbalances in privilege and power, and advocating for health equity. This course is specifically designed for students who are enrolled in or plan to enroll in a healthcare degree program (e.g., medicine, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, dental hygiene, physical therapy). However, students from any discipline are welcome and encouraged to attend.


SC1152 SCHOLARSHIP IS A GLOBAL CONVERSATION: WHOSE VOICES ARE LEFT OUT?

In this course, students will engage in direct dialogue with scholars and researchers in the Global South across a variety of disciplines. These scholars will share their first-hand accounts of accessing and publishing scholarship and their experience and leadership in advocating for inclusion in the “mainstream” scholarly conversation. This course will encourage students to think critically about topics like the role and need of inclusive practices in scholarship, the way the gender gap operates in other scholarly worlds, and the impact of digital divides and inequalities in global scholarship. The class will brainstorm potential solutions to issues of information inequality and lack of inclusive practices in global scholarship. Afterwards, students will be asked to record their reflections to share back what they have learned with the global community through the creation of a short podcast.


SC0125 THE SOUNDS OF DISCORD

Protest Music has long been associated with providing a voice during adversity and a platform for activism. “The Sounds of Discord” is an interdisciplinary pop-up course that enables students to historically explore the protest music that has shaped our society from the 60’s to today. In each session, we will analyze the lyrics of protest music, while also examining and paralleling the historical backdrop. We explore both the cacophonous and harmonizing sounds of protest. Creating protest music is a long standing tradition. As long as people have been getting frustrated with the status quo, “musicians” have been singing about it. These songs are most often written to underscore a movement for cultural or political change and to mobilize supporters into action.

 


SC0241 VIEW FROM HERE: (DIS)ABILITY, INCLUSION AND ACCESS

This pop-up course is designed to support participants’ developing understanding of (dis)ability through discussion, video, readings, personal reflection, and interaction with people with disabilities. In addition, instructors will model inclusive practices and principles that enable access across environments and experiences for the widest range of people. Each of three course sessions will take place in different locations near VCU to help immerse participants in community settings that are inclusive of people of all abilities. Participants will be encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch for Sessions 1 and 2, and provided with the option of purchasing lunch at the restaurant location selected for Session 3.


SC0247 VIEW FROM HERE: DISRUPTING DISABILITY

Disrupting disability is about the conversations that people with lived experience of disabilities continue to have despite the disability civil rights movement.  How do people with disabilities (famous and not) live successful lives despite continued segregation and stigma? Through three 90-minute experiential classes taught by people with lived experience of disability, students in this course will gain a greater understanding of 1) how to disrupt disability ableism, 2) challenges to inclusion and access to the community that is vital to belonging, and 3) ways to positively influence equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the future. 


SC0733 WHOSE LIVES MATTER: LIFE EXPECTANCY ACROSS RICHMOND

This pop-up course is designed to engage students from diverse academic backgrounds in community-participatory research through the lens of the residents of the East End of Richmond, VA. The course will give students an opportunity to experience the living situations of public housing community residents, from cradle to grave, who experience the lowest life-expectancy rates in Richmond. Babies born within five miles of downtown Richmond can expect to experience a 20-year difference in life expectancy. Students will have the opportunity to interact with residents in public housing, community resource centers, such as the VCU Health Hub, and in community town meetings held with public officials, faith leaders and law enforcement. The course will undertake an interdisciplinary approach and include identification of unconscious bias typically found in research targeting communities of color.