Solidarity means making meaningful connections between struggles and thinking and working intersectionally to unravel the intertwined oppressions that can’t be compartmentalized in our understanding or in our solutions. Solidarity is not a destination. It must be a commitment in the means and process through just and equitable human relationships and ways of being that will reflect themselves in the transformed world we are building.

Program Overview

Social Justice Solidarity Circles is an 11-month opportunity for students to build their practice of solidarity through engagement with community leaders and organizers, reflection and dialogue, community mobilization, and creative expression. 

Participants will engage in building a relationship and working with a local social justice organization or movement led by Black, Indigenous, queer, trans, disabled, people of color, women and femme community members. Participants will support the goals and calls to action of their community collaborator while reflecting on their positionality, personal role in the vision of the social justice organization or movement, and individual and collective social justice praxis. Participants and facilitators will gather for weekly Learning Circles to discuss social justice topics, solidarity practice, and our engaged community work. Participants must commit to one calendar year in the Solidarity Circles program and with their community collaborator, with the goal of developing a lifelong relationship and commitment. 

There are four programmatic components that participants must commit to participating in for the duration of the program year: 

  1. Learning Circles - The cohort convenes weekly as a community of practice to reflect, discuss, and improve our practices of solidarity and social justice. This group also rotates choosing a text to discuss together that supports or deepens their understanding of what they are learning in the community. Texts may include books, articles, podcasts, songs, videos, dance, zines, and somatic practice, among others. We will explore the complexities of solidarity, power, social justice, resistance, and liberation.
  2. Engaged Community Practice - Participants work weekly with a local community-based organization to build a relationship and contribute meaningfully to their work. 
  3. Community Action Circles - The cohort will host monthly virtual action circles to support and amplify the campaign asks of community collaborators in order to mobilize our college community and our resources in response to calls to action from these grassroots leaders. This may also involve smaller, distinct projects participants can collaborate with SJC members and community leaders to implement.
  4. Social Solidarity Zine - Each cohort will generate and publish an independent annual zine reflecting on their work and learnings from the year. It will be creative, eclectic, and reflect the personalities, interests, and skills of the individual cohort. The zine may vary in design, medium, and platform. 

The cohort will engage with and explore topics including:

  • Solidarity and social justice
  • Liberation
  • Intersectionality of identities and power
  • Transformative justice
  • Healing justice and politicized somatics
  • Liberatory access
  • Community accountability
  • Abolition, abolitionist futures, and Afro-futurism
  • Black, Indigenous, queer, trans, disabled, people of color, women and femme liberation
  • Ecological systems theory

Stipend

Each participant will receive a $1,000 stipend paid in two $500 installments during the 11-month program.

Program Schedule

The pilot year of the Solidarity Circles program will run from November 2021 to September 2022. The cohort will meet in-person weekly for 2 hours during this time except for holiday weekends and school breaks, and will meet virtually weekly during the January intersession. Additionally, there will be two retreat weekends—one full-day session in the fall and one weekend-long session in the spring. The weekly meeting time will be determined by the cohort according to their course schedules. 

Program Size and Eligibility

Up to 8 students will be selected from the applicant pool to participate in the 2021-2022 program year. Participants must be available for weekly Community of Practice meetings, not missing more than one meeting per semester, and both retreat weekends. Weekly meetings will be scheduled according to the cohort’s schedules.

Program Goals

  • Create an opportunity for engagement between participants and local social justice community organizations that center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, queer, trans, disabled, people of color, women and femme community members.
  • Mobilize the broader people power and story work of the college to support the movement work of these organizations in a way that is accountable and does not strain their capacity.
  • Develop political education and commitment to radical social transformation through a dialogic learning approach.
  • Create a supportive space in which folks can come together to reflect on their own Work and understand their roles in perpetuating and disrupting systems of oppression, and building liberatory futures.
  • Fractualize collective reimagining of social relationships and dreaming and growing abolitionist futures through community building and praxis.

Application Process

Students interested in being part of the 2021–2022 cohort must submit their online application no later than 5pm on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. After that, selected applicants will be invited for a 30-minute interview and asked to submit 1–2 references from individuals who can speak to their demonstration of self-awareness, their community relationships, and/or their approach to self-improvement and growth. Applicants selected to participate in the program will be notified by Wednesday, November 3, 2021 and must return a signed commitment form no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 5, 2021. The cohort’s first Learning Circle will be held the week of November 8th according to the cohort’s availability.

Applications are available online at bit.ly/sjsc2021.

Learning Circles: Detailed Snapshot

Foundational Knowledge and Skills

  • Community building
  • Self-awareness and self-reflection
  • Basic theories and concepts: solidarity, community accountability, abolitionist futures, liberation

Reflection and Community Building

  • Characteristics of oppressive social systems
  • Social transformation and liberation
  • Healing justice and politicized somatics
  • Transformative justice

Applying Theory to Practice

  • Engaged community practice
  • Survive, disrupt, and reimagine
  • Community narrative and story work
  • Co-building module 5 curriculum

Social Transformation and Abolitionist Futures

  • Engaged community practice
  • Additional theories and concepts: cycle of socialization, cycle of liberation, positionality, ecological systems theory
  • Liberation, social transformation, anti-oppression, and healing justice
  • Critical thinking grounded in community knowledge production

Cohort-Designed Curriculum & Learning 

  • Expand desired knowledge of social justice topics
  • Apply new knowledge to practices of self-reflection and solidarity praxis

Creative Practice as Solidarity and Liberation

  • Produce a Solidarity Zine (or other creative project) about the cohort’s experience

Curricular texts may include:

  • Video: “Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Survival and Mobilization” interview with Dean Spade 
  • Blog: The 4 parts of accountability: How to give an apology by Mia Mingus
  • Selections from M Archive: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
  • We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice by adrienne maree brown
  • “Three Commitments” and “Five Questions” by Charlene Carruthers in Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
  • Selections from Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown
  • Video: “From Survival to Liberation: How Creative Practice Shapes Movements” with Toshi Reagon and adrienne maree brown
  • “Evidence” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and other selections from Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

Contact Us

Questions? Contact Ashley (they/she) at 617-824-8763 or at a_tarbetdestefano [at] emerson.edu

Applications are available online and must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on October 20, 2021.

Apply Now