High School Academics
What is a changemaker?
A changemaker is someone who is taking action to solve a social problem. They are people who create change and have the knowledge and will to do so. Changemakers can come from many different backgrounds and are passionate about helping their community. They don’t just create change for themselves, but for others around them as well. Everyone has the power to be a changemaker — even you. All you need to do is believe you can make a change, speak up, and surround yourself with people who are passionate about the same things as you so that you can grow together.
A group of UNCSA High School Seniors enrolled in a “Changemakers” themed English course with Dr. Carrie Hart undertook a participatory action research project over the course of the 2020-21 academic year. The inspiration for this project is also the inspiration for the changemakers theme of an ongoing Senior Seminar. We are living in a time in which injustice (systemic racism and sexism, inequitable access to health care, wealth inequality, and environmental destruction in particular) is at the forefront of many people’s minds.
While young people are no monolith, many of the active contemporary protest movements (e.g. Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, Climate Strike) are youth-led. Young student-artists on the precipice of graduating from high school amidst a global pandemic, a national reckoning on racial violence, and an increasingly evident climate crisis are hungry to know what they can do to create a more just world.
In this class, we have conversations about power and privilege, how to converse about and across areas of difference, and how to engage in art-making praxis that is courageous and powerful in the face of inequity. Academic classes and community partnerships with local changemakers can help students better understand how to transform anger and frustration at injustice into concrete action.
Students in this course identify a changemaker local to Winston-Salem and/or Forsyth County and familiarize themselves with the context of the problem(s) their changemaker is addressing. Over the duration of the project, students interview the changemaker about their inspiration and work, then craft their research into a narrative that presents this changemaker in a fair and accurate way. They give each other feedback on their research and writing process throughout the entire project development.