Claremont, Calif. (April 26, 2016)—Pitzer College Professor Emeritus José Z. Calderón’s book Lessons from an Activist Intellectual: Teaching, Research, and Organizing for Social Change is an anthology of articles that tackle a range of societal issues and show how Professor Calderón has pursued social justice as a professor, researcher and community organizer.
A professor of sociology and Chicano/a-Latino/a studies at Pitzer, Calderón gives numerous examples of the way “an interactive, intercultural and interdisciplinary approach can involve students and community participants in community-based teaching, research and learning experiences for social change.” Taken together, these articles provide a blueprint for activist-intellectuals who seek to bridge the gap that often exists between the academy and surrounding communities.
In the course of 19 chapters, Calderón analyzes a multitude of contemporary cultural and social issues, including ethnic conflict in suburbia, English-only laws in California and immigrant workers’ rights. He simultaneously explores his approach to teaching, which recasts students and community participants as both teachers and learners in social-change projects. He shows how this kind of community-based pedagogy can engage historically excluded individuals from diverse backgrounds “for whom the educational experience can be either an alienating or empowering experience.”
Professor Calderón shares his own history as a first-generation immigrant of Mexican origin and describes how his experiences relate to the evolution of his approach to teaching and community organizing.
“My struggles with learning English and growing up in a poor immigrant farm-worker family became the foundations of language, labor and immigration issues that I passionately took up in my organizing, teaching and research as an activist intellectual in academia,” he writes.
José Zapata Calderón joined Pitzer College’s faculty in 1991. He is the co-editor of Race, Poverty, and Social Justice: Multidisciplinary Perspectives through Service Learning, and his scholarly articles and public commentaries have been widely published. In the late ’90s, Calderón spearheaded the founding of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC), a nonprofit dedicated improving the overall conditions for all immigrant workers. He has received numerous awards for his community-based work, including the PEOC Community Award and California Campus Compact’s Richard E. Cone Award for Excellence & Leadership in Cultivating Community Partnership in Higher Education.
Lessons from an Activist Intellectual was published by University Press of America, Inc. and is available through Rowman & Littlefield, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.