Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD) offers a two-semester course for 11th-12th grade youth beginning each fall and running through spring. The course is offered in partnership with the African American & African Studies Department at the University of Minnesota. The course invites students to gain college credit through the Post-Secondary Education Opportunities program while engaging in the process of participatory action research. The following outline describes the course goals and conceptual framework.
What’s the big idea?
Black people in the U.S. and around the world have maintained cultural practices that come from African knowledge systems in order to survive and thrive in the modern world. At the same time, our communities are often faced with conditions that attempt to deteriorate family, community, and the natural world. Using African knowledge systems to analyze our communities can give us valuable insight into how we deal with complex circumstances.
You, our youth, are a vital resource to our communities, but often go unrecognized. Your education should help you realize the means you have through which you can gain control over your own thinking. Your education should satisfy you and allow you to meet your needs, which is vital to thriving communities. Critical participatory action research (CPAR) is a process through which you can nurture your intellectual ability by asking questions, collecting data, producing knowledge about, and taking action in your local community.
What will you learn in this course?
Upon completion of the course you will be able to:
- Describe the major aspects (e.g. values, practices) of African knowledge systems and how these remain relevant to our lives.
- Describe the differences and similarities of African and Western knowledge systems.
- Make historical connections between social, political, and economic power structures and their impact on community practices.
- Understand the history and process of critical participatory action research.
- Systematically and collectively identify important community issues.
- Translate community issues into answerable research questions.
- Understand the process of research design and implementation.
- Analyze quantitative and qualitative data to inform actions regarding community issues.
- Write in multiple genres about research findings.
- Creatively communicate research findings in multiple ways to various stakeholders in your community.
- Develop action projects through research findings to impact community issues.
- Describe your role in the African intellectual tradition.