Course Title: “Religious Organizing for Racial Justice”
Taught By: Associate Professor of Religion Molly Farneth
This course examines grassroots democratic coalitions and movements, and considers how they try to forge solidarity and build power across religious and racial divides. The learning in this course is happening inside and outside of the classroom. Students are reading about and discussing the role of religion in local interfaith organizations like POWER Main Line and in national social movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and they’re critically examining concepts of religion and politics, democracy, citizenship, and power in the democratic organizing tradition. At the same time, students are working in collaboration with neighbors in Ardmore to address a long-standing neighborhood concern — the chain-link fence that marks the border between Haverford and its neighbors. Students are meeting with neighborhood residents and members of the Haverford community to build relationships, conduct power analyses, and plan actions that can materially improve that border and the campus-neighborhood relationship.
I hope that the course encourages students to think critically about their conceptions of religion and politics, citizenship, and power, and that it helps to prepare them for the slow but vital work of building just and equitable relationships in the communities they find themselves in after leaving Haverford.
The course grows out of my interest in religious involvement in justice-seeking democratic movements, as well as students’ demands during last year’s strike for racial justice that the College examine and rectify its relationship with neighboring communities. I developed the community-engaged learning in the course in conversation with Eric Hartman of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship and Ardmore residents, from whom I learned about the racial history of the border and fence along Armat Ave. and W. Spring Ave. and the changes that residents have been asking the College to make for years. It seemed to me that there was a clear opportunity to connect what students were learning about in the classroom with the work of building better relationships at and across that border.
This is the first of my own courses to involve a semester-long partnership with residents and institutions in Ardmore, and I’m excited to continue to develop this partnership into other opportunities for collaborative learning into future semesters.
Learn more about other classes offered by the Department of Religion.