Higher Education Digs into the Grassroots

kids in t-shirts that say "It's our right to get educated."“Collaboration between community organizations and academic institutions isn’t new, but bringing a business model into an environment where it will be looked at critically, that’s courageous.” That’s what Kent Glenzer said about the new course he’s designed at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS) that started last week. Kent designed IPOL 8566: Ecology of Social Change Organizations: The Firelight Case to train students in good practice on the basic functions of community organizations and to provide the rare opportunity to investigate a social change organization as a holistic entity.

Each week, the class pairs a MIIS faculty member with a Firelight manager or board member to engage students in a rather informal setting—at least informal for higher education. Kent started the class off talking about music because he’s a big music buff and presenters and students are just feet apart in the small classroom setting where the student garden is visible just outside the line of windows.

From the Firelight side, we’ll be bringing one of our toughest strategic challenges to the classroom each week to talk about it candidly with MIIS students.  Student’s readings outside of class introduce them to the larger body of literature and theory on social change and organizations. Together, we’ll challenge our thinking and see how our ideas change over the course of eight classes.

Tossing around great ideas sounded like a good opportunity to bring even more people into the conversation so we’re also filming the course and live tweeting each Tuesday from the back of the class. (Join us at @FirelightFnd on Twitter).  Later, you’ll be able to see the lectures yourself at the soon to be University of Firelight Foundation…stay tuned.

I asked Kent what soundtrack he’d give the first day of class.  He chose My Body by Young the Giant, “not for the words, but for the energy of the song.”

We’ll meet you on Twitter next Tuesday!