Pitzer Spotlights

2006-2007 Spotlight Archives

Professor Kathy Yep Awarded Carnegie Foundation Faculty Fellow
Service-Learning for Political Engagement Program

Assistant Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies Kathy Yep looks forward to working with her California colleagues to better educate students for critical consciousness and social action. It's all about "praxis"--reflection and action as well as sustained dialogue during college and beyond.

Kathy Yep
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies Kathy Yep has been awarded a two-year Carnegie Foundation Faculty Fellowship

Awarded a two-year fellowship stemming from a partnership between California Campus Compact and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Professor Yep is one of twenty-five faculty from California colleges and universities who will develop service-learning courses that foster students’ understanding, skills, and motivation for political engagement.

Professor Yep discusses in her own words how the fellowship is a natural extension of Pitzer College's core values, study abroad programs and community-based pedagogy.

My proposal for the fellowship is to teach an introductory Asian American Studies course on the history, philosophies, and practices of nonviolent social change. Drawing from readings by Mahatma Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Margo Okazawa-Rey and others, the class integrates a social responsibility component that assists underserved communities with documenting their social biographies.

Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies emerged from one of the longest student strikes in U.S. history. Students demanded access to higher education for working-class students from different racial backgrounds, clear links between campus and community, and relevant curriculum and pedagogies that worked towards the freedom and justice for those in the United States and around the world. Given this intellectual genealogy, it is a natural extension that the course on nonviolent social change connects the campus and the community and amplifies Pitzer's core values of intercultural understanding, diversity and social responsibility.

My classes, such as nonviolent social change, Asian American Studies: Theories and Methods, sociology of gender, and sociology of education, focus on facilitating students' analytical skills . They do so by exploring social theories such as Pierre Bourdieu's social reproduction or Chandra Mohanty's feminist genealogies through collaborations with communities-at-large. In the six semesters that I have been teaching at Pitzer, students have spent approximately 3000 hours in communities applying and revising what they have learned in the classroom. With the CCCSI staff, these community partnerships range from after-school tutoring programs in underserved communities to first-generation college student retention efforts at the Claremont Colleges and adult literacy work with immigrant communities.

The purpose of integrating social responsibility with my courses is for students to refine their critical thinking skills to, in the words of influential educator Paulo Freire, "name the world in order to change it." During the 15 weeks of the semester, we engage in a focused conversation around of a set of social problems such as tracking in education or hegemonic masculinity in civil society. However, the goal is to develop a fluency in theories and practices that are applicable to their future course of study and to their lives well beyond their time at The Claremont Colleges. This is the objective of the Carnegie Fellowship and the legacy of a Pitzer education—creating a sustained dialogue for combining, in the words of bell hooks, "ways of knowing with ways of doing."