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Spring 2025 Course

Art of Social Change

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This course explores various strategies for systemic law and policy reform, focusing on legal systems that impact children, including the education, juvenile legal, and child welfare systems, among others. We examine significant reform initiatives and consider how best to advance the interests of young people. The emphasis is on analyzing different approaches to system change, inside and outside of the courtroom, with the goal of informing students’ future advocacy efforts. During approximately half of the class sessions, we bring into the classroom as visiting lecturers leaders and changemakers from the worlds of policy and practice who represent different disciplines, career paths, and approaches to system change. Through these sessions, we learn how child-centered legal systems (e.g., child welfare, education, and juvenile legal) inequitably distribute benefits and harms to various groups of children and think critically about different approaches to systemic law and policy reform. During the other weeks of the course, we convene in smaller learning communities, deepening our understanding of the work shared by guest speakers by using a conceptual model as a tool to 1) retrospectively analyze system change efforts and 2) prospectively (and iteratively) plan a campaign to achieve system change. 

Through readings, speakers, and in other ways, we will endeavor as much as possible to bring the voices of young people themselves into our conversations.

Throughout the semester, students work on their own system change project or paper, getting an opportunity to apply their learning to an issue that is important to them. The course places an emphasis on peer learning and integrates opportunities for workshopping and feedback on final projects as part of the bi-weekly learning community class sessions. Class participation is part of the final grade. There is no final exam. 

Cross-registrants are welcome. This course is required for all Y-Lab Fellows

This course is part of the Youth Advocacy & Policy Lab (Y-Lab). Please see the Y-Lab website for information about other related courses.