Sturdy green leaves growing in the college garden as a student tends them

Self and Social Change

Self and Social Change

A First-Year Tutorial offered fall 2021, taught by Ross Haenfler, professor of sociology

How do people engage in social change efforts not only as activists but also in the course of their ongoing, relatively mundane lives? How do they seek to “be the change they wish to see in the world”? This course explores whether and how our individual choices matter. We will learn how people build connections between individual and collective action and how they connect personal and structural change. Topics will include the development of lifestyle movements, wherein participants challenge cultural patterns by changing their lifestyles; building sustainable, thriving social change communities; evaluating change efforts; and how people combine self-actualization, self-care, and social transformation. We will learn from and about anarchists, vegans, intentional communities, cooperatives, punk and hip hop, queer collectives, BIPOC activism, ethical/political consumerism, abstinence pledgers, religious and spiritual communities, and prefigurative politics. 

Ross Haenfler

Why I'm Teaching This Topic

I am teaching Self and Social Change to wrestle with questions haunting many of us: How do I live with integrity, trying to reduce suffering in the world, while also cultivating joy and wholeness in myself? Does what I do matter? How can I live in a more just and sustainable way? 

I think it is a privilege to build community with tutorial students and help them thrive as they transition to College life.

– Ross Haenfler

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