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Dialogue, Integration, and Action: Empowering Students, Empowering Community

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Emerging from a commitment to feminist pragmatism and aligned with the recent movement to foster collaborative engagement practices, this paper explicates the benefits and the challenges of undergraduate philosophic engagement that emerges from and responds to social justice issues emerging from the surrounding community. It documents the community-instructor-student collaborative design of a university course, the feminist pragmatist philosophic commitments underriding its pedagogy, the community-led, student-facilitated dialogue on crime and policing and the subsequent public report, as well as the impact of this work on the students, the community, and the instructor. This co-generative, community-engaged course has yielded a number of recommendations for facilitating work on significant real-world problems, including strategies for engaging with, in, and through the public in ways that are reciprocal and mutually beneficial and building engaged philosophy projects that encourage iterative processes of reflection and action.


Danielle Lake    
Grand Valley State University
United States

Hannah Swanson    
Student at GVSU
United States

Paula Collier    
Community Partner and neighborhood resident, Seeds of Promise
United States


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