FYS 004 : Fall 2011
Video And Diversity

Diversity Group Action: Guidelines and Groups


Diversity Groups (can also be referred to as affinity groups) are groups formed from students enrolled in this class. The term is adopted from grassroots political movements that engage in direct action, such as ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) or WHAM (Women's Health Action Mobilization). Groups will be formed during the 2nd-3rd week of class, and can be modfied according to the progress of the project.


Diversity Group Action (DGA) each group will create an action to creatively address, bring awareness to, and educate the larger community (this could be the class, members of Pitzer College, the 5C Community, the city of Claremont, or the on-line world via the internet) about an issue that is chosen by the group as a whole. The action and issue should related to larger discussions in the class, and should engage with video and/or other forms of media. The format for the action is open, you are encouraged to consider and debate which format is most effective in getting your message across. Past actions have included guest lectures and panel discussion, media campaigns—posters, guerilla video screenings, video postings on YouTube, teach-ins, demonstrations, art exhibition, etc.


Process - After the groups are formed, each group will meet outside of class to get to know each other, discuss, and choose an issue. By Thursday 10/6, each group will hand in a proposal for their action. Proposals should be written collectively by the group, and should contain the following information:

  • The issue you are addressing in your action (e.g. environmental awareness, day laborer issues, reproductive rights) the more specific you are, the better. Also make an argument about why it is important at this time in history to bring awareness to this issue, and how is the issue related to the class (does it address issues of diversity? Is it something that is related to some of the topics we study in class? How so?);
  • The proposed format of your action - best if you can include a timeline, location, scope (how many people are involved, how long will it take, etc.) and if needed, a budget—you should at least have a list of what you need to execute the action;
  • The proposed date of your action - when will it happen, does it take place in a few hours, in a day, or over a period of days, months?
  • Lastly, your proposal should contain an argument on why you think your action is the most effective way of addressing the issue of your choice. In other words, why this action and not others?

Proposal need to be approved by me before your action takes place. Also, each group will organize a teach-in on your action in class before or during the execution of the action. The teach-in will present the information listed above to the class in informative, succinct ways. Audio-visual aids (video clips, powerpoint, fact sheets, web site, etc.) may be helpful, and good organization of the materials is always recommended. Each group should be prepared to answer questions from the class and discuss suggestions that may come up. Come talk to me before your teach-in to get feedback!

All actions must be concluded by Week 14 of this semester, and each student must hand in a 1-2 page narrative and reflection on the action performed by your group. Discuss your intentions, how the group process worked for you - are there things that you would do differently in retrospect? If so, why? What did you learn from doing the action? Did your views on your issue change during the process? Were there things that did not work, or ones that worked differently from what you expected?

Some Tips on Collaboration
This assignment is designed to foster learning as a group, and to promote solidarity rather than competition in the process of learning. It is also a good opportunity for you to address what you see as gaps in the curriculum (i.e. are there issues that you care about that are not addressed in the class?) Take ownership of the class!

Working as a group can be both challenging and rewarding. It is vital that you do your share of the work and participate fully in the group's efforts;
Everyone has different strengths, talent, and knowledge - use these differences strategically when you divide up the duties, but also treat this project as an opportunity to learn and acquire new skills;
Everyone's opinion is important - take time out to hear what each other are saying, be respectful of differences within the group, make these differences productive, try to work by consensus as much as you can, come up with decisions collectively;
If there are difficulties in group process, you are encouraged to come speak to me far ahead of the deadline so we can come up with solutions. The evaluations are also a good place to report on what you did for the group (or who did not do any work and never came to meetings), but this will be after your action has concluded. Try to resolve these issues as soon as they arise, don't wait till the last minute!
If your group wants to set-up a discussion forum on Sakai (sakai.claremont.edu) to facilitate your planning process, I am happy to do so, just let me know. You can also use other forums outside of the Claremont Colleges, such as Facebook, Yahoo groups, etc. to as on-line discussion spaces for your group.

A good reference for this project is Feminist Media Strategies for Political Performance by Suzanne Lacy & Leslie Labowitz, assigned as required reading for Week 8.


Other DGA Responsibilities - Each affinity group is also responsible for researching and presenting on a historical period (e.g. 1970s-1980s) in class. The purpose of these presentations are designed to give the class a larger context within which to consider the video and media we are studying. Specifically, your presentation should contain the following:

  • Introduction on the period - what is significant about this period? (e.g. during the 1960s, anti-establishment thinking and social protest movements led to the re-evaluation of previously accepted social values and beliefs);
  • Global Events (e.g. the Vietnam War during the 1960s, WWII during the 1940s, etc.) and especially events that influence and are reflected in the videos and media from that period;
  • Developments in media technology (e.g. the introduction of commercially available video camera—portapaks in the 1970s)
  • Mass media forms of the period (music, film, television, print media, etc.)
  • Popular cultural trends and fashion etc. of the era

Ideally, your presentations can point to and anticipate some of the videos we will study from the period. You are encouraged to make these connections during your presentation. Each presentation should be around 10-15 mins. Visual aids such as powerpoint, video clips, web sites, etc. can be helpful in conveying the material. Presentations are not graded per se, but each group's performance during a presentation will be reflected in their final grade for the DGA.

- Each group will receive one grade. Each student must hand in an evaluation to receive their grade for this project.


Fall 2011 DGAs

Group working on suicide among gay teens
Samantha Leach
Adrian Brandon
Isaac Richard III
Sidra Speaker
Nicole Chang
Group working on LGBT media representation
Dani Cabot
India Maxwell
Bouvier Robertson

Alex Rosario

Laura Gabriel
Matt Wolf
Group working on human trafficking
Laurel Sager
Isabelle Platt
Nikita Mehandru
Davey Kourtesis
Johanna Garcia
Adam Faison

<Back to Course Listing

Back to top