Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Environmental Studies

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors, Environmental Studies Electronic Thesis

First Advisor

Ingrid Nelson

Second Advisor

Stephanie Kaza

Third Advisor

Robert Bartlett


Community organizing, pedagogy of the oppressed, pedagogy of the privileged, oppression, education, social change, activism


Community organizing has been an essential component of every significant social movement in United State’s history. Often, community organizers receive no formal training and instead gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become effective organizers through experience and trial and error. Through the analysis of a 14-student students-teaching-students course developed and co-taught by myself and another UVM undergraduate in the fall of 2014, my research aims to discover if it is possible to teach, within a hierarchical university setting, how to community organize for the purpose of deconstructing systemic oppression. Using emergent pedagogy, such as non-hierarchical co-teaching through class discussions, service learning and hands-on trainings and activities, this course exposed students to the critical theories of community organizing and nonviolence for social change, and the history and practice of organizing in the U.S. I found that it is possible to teach students the rudimentary skills necessary for community organizing, however the theoretical and fundamental ideology required to deconstruct oppression cannot be taught when grades and in-class power dynamics are present. Specifically intra class dynamics, notably race, religion and gender, greatly influence the effectiveness of the pedagogy and the salience of the material. I call for the introduction of a pedagogy of the privileged to focus specifically on working with those who hold privileged identities to recognize and understand the systems that enable their power, and work to deconstruct them.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.