Course Description

Interested in the course? This course description will provide you with more information.

What is January Term? Saint Mary's College of California operates on a 4-1-4 academic schedule: four month fall and spring terms with a one-month January Term. January Term is the one-month, intensive academic experience, during which students focus on a single course of study. January Term provides an opportunity for students to delve deeper into a topic that interests them through broader reading, independent study and collaboration with faculty. Some courses -- like this course -- provide travel opportunities.

JAN 073: Bridges to the Bayou: Direct Hurricane Relief in New Orleans
Taught by Shawny Anderson and Marcia Ong

This course will be an artistic ethnographic approach to the hard labor of hurricane relief. After preparatory work in the Bay before we depart, we will embark as a totally self-sufficient relief force, living together in a bus and working to restore green spaces, rebuild schools, and perform direct service to citizens of New Orleans. We will bring and prepare our own food and all supplies, so that we are never a burden to the hosts who are making available to us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Along with the labor that we will offer to the embattled city, we will endeavor to capture our experience to the best of our abilities so that all interested members of the SMC community can closely follow our undertaking.

Using digital cameras and mini-disc recorders, we will conduct creative ethnographies of our own experience and of the lives that we encounter in Louisiana. We will prepare slide shows and Powerpoint presentations to present to the College community upon our return. We will offer our material to all campus and local media so that our experience can be shared as widely as possible.

Prerequisites: Signature of the Instructor. This lower-division course will be open to 10 seniors, 5 juniors, 5 sophomores, and 5 freshmen, if enough members of each class level have appropriate experience (as listed below). Admission to the course will be based on applications that outline special skills that students possess. Preference will be given to students in four primary categories: 1) manual labor experience, including construction, landscaping, carpentry, etc., 2) digital art skills, including digital photography, graphic design, creative software, audio and video editing, etc., 3) academic experience with fieldwork and/or service learning, and 4) specialized skills in health, physical fitness, or nutrition.

Reading List: Selections from Pedagogy of the Oppressed, texts on visual anthropology, ethnography and autoethnography.

Basis for Final Grade: Regular participation in pre-course preparation, active commitment to worksite activities, quality of participation in discussions and reflection activities in pre-course and course, quality of reflective materials/journals, quality of slideshow presentation upon return to California.