Advocating for a Sustainable Future: Weaving Stories and Statistics

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Winter 2018 and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

mathematics, history of science
creative writing, sustainability, public policy

How can we more effectively advocate for community-based projects that advance environmental and social justice?  Students will connect passion with practice as they focus on  issues that deeply impact our individual and collective lives. With the current backdrop of a divided state legislature and sweeping changes at the federal level, we will learn to develop advocacy plans. Students will weave effective message and storytelling with data analysis, writing, public engagement, and public speaking. In addition to developing knowledge and skills, we will learn how advocates develop resilience.  On the research end, we will address theoretical models, concrete historical examples/case studies, and critiques from a wide variety of voices.  Students will attend a state legislative hearing while studying the effects of public engagement on public policy. Data is an essential starting point in formulating positions and policies to bring about positive changes in the large and small communities that we live in. Students will create and administer surveys to better understand the process of collecting quantitative data and gain experience in critically analyzing data collection mechanisms.

We will begin creating community-based project advocacy plans in small groups that connect to broader themes or movements. Later, we will carry out feasible versions of these projects. By program’s end, students will have studied the theoretical underpinnings of advocacy plans and past movements that have proven successful.  Students will consider how to work collectively with like and opposing interests, examine various strategies for effective advocacy, and collect, organize, and present quantitative data. Using a variety of disciplinary tools, they'll create compelling, well-grounded narratives of individuals and societies working to bring justice and equity to their lives.

Throughout, students will engage in workshops, field trips, projects, films, and text seminars.  Expect to develop a broad palette of writing, speaking, and public presentation skills in order to shape work to best suit audiences. We will also study and use statistical and other mathematical methods of developing compelling narratives that lead decision-makers to make change.

All quantitative subjects will be developed from the ground up—students aren’t  expected to have previous college mathematical experience, though we can accommodate students with this experience.

Credit will be awarded in statistics, as well as areas such as sustainability studies, public policy, and community studies.

Program Details

Fields of Study

mathematics writing


Winter Open Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered

Evening and Weekend

Advertised Schedule

Wednesdays from 6 to 9:30p, plus 5 Saturdays from 9:30a to 5p per quarter. Winter Saturdays: Jan. 20, Feb. 10, Feb. 24, March 10, and March 24. Spring Saturdays: April 7, April 21, May 5, May 19, and June 2.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online Enhanced Online Learning


$50 winter quarter for field trips and special projects materials.


2017-12-06Program now open to all levels.