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Unit information: Arts, Activism and Social Justice Summer Programme in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Arts, Activism and Social Justice Summer Programme
Unit code PHIL10036
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Burch-Brown
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This four-week programme explores the themes of arts, activism and social justice. Students will investigate how disciplines such as literature, music, visual arts, storytelling, dance, philosophy, history and critical social theory have shaped movements for social justice across the globe, with particular attention to racial justice and the legacies of slavery.
Topics will range across geographic areas, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and across six overlapping themes:

  • Racial justice and slavery
  • Colonialism and independence
  • Global feminisms
  • Migration and refugees
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Health and wellbeing

The programme will include practical components aimed at empowering students to think strategically about how they themselves might use the arts to build community and transform culture.

The programme will be delivered through a combination of academic seminars and creative, hands-on workshops led by community-based partners in the thriving arts and voluntary sectors of Bristol. Students will experience involvement in a variety of community and civic activities, meet and engage with a wide range of people from a variety of backgrounds, and acquire significant knowledge and contextual understanding of Bristol and Great Britain.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will have:

1. Acquired knowledge and understanding about movements for social change and justice from around the world.

2. Explored how people from diverse social contexts have used a combination of philosophy and the arts as vehicles for social change.

3. Familiarity with the key role of Bristol in the development of transatlantic slavery.

4. Examined legacies of racism, slavery and colonialism, and the impact of these legacies on the lives of people today.

5. Explored how race and ethnicity intersect with gender in shaping social experience.

6. Examined what responsibilities we might have today as a result of historical legacies of racial injustice.

7. Developed transferrable skills for use in future leadership and social entrepreneurship.

8. Developed academic and study skills.

9. Become empowered to think strategically about how they themselves can use the arts to build community and transform culture.

Teaching details

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Details

This unit asks students to submit work throughout as follows: 3 x blog posts [each 600 words maximum], each describing and reflecting on a different teaching session (20% each) [ILOs 1-6, 8] 1 x digital presentation (40%) [ILOs 1-9

Reading and References

Afua Hirsch. 2018. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. Jonathan Cape

Clint Smith. 2016. Counting Descent. Write Bloody Publishing.

Lubaina Himid. 2018. Lubaina Himid: Three Works. Modern Art Oxford.

Bree Picower. 2012. ‘Using their words: 6 Elements of Social Justice Education’. International Journal of Multicultural Education. Vol 14(1).

Audre Lorde. 1984. Sister Outsider. Crossing Press.

Dan Demetriou and Ajume Wingo. 2019. ‘The Ethics of Racist Monuments’. David Boonin (ed). Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy.

Patricia Hill Collins. 2000. Black Feminist Thought. Routledge

Sally Haslanger. 2014. ‘Studying while black: Trust, disrespect and opportunity’ in Du Bois Review. 11(1) pp. 109-136.

Chris Bertram. 2018. Do States Have a Right to Exclude Immigrants? Polity Press.

Daniel Butt, 2013, ‘Colonialism and post-colonialism’ in Hugh LaFolette (ed), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.

Paul Gilroy. 2006. Postcolonial Melancholia. Columbia University Press.