HSSJ 4198: The Citizen Leader

This class has been closed and is no longer open.


Public discourse is teeming with advice about leadership, opinions about what citizenship is, and what service in the community should look like. Effectiveness as a citizen leader requires a more complex understanding of each of these constructs and their implications. In this course, we will explore several ways that leadership, citizenship, and service have been framed by scholars. Ultimately, you will arrive at your own informed and well-considered philosophy, which will guide you as a student leader at GW and a citizen-leader in the world.

This is a community-engaged scholarship course, and includes 30 hours of service with a local community organization addressing issues of poverty, affordable housing, food security, or youth development. This course is restricted to GW students in the Civic House Scholars Program. 

Fall 2018
24 People | 147 Impacts | 404 Hours




The theater presentation made me think about how one can go about social change. Going into the stories of immigrants coming to America, it gave life and imagery to something that is often talked about but distant. Art can make you think about things in a new way, or try to find meaning for yourself, which is what this did. For me, service has lead me to do advocacy, especially when service allows me to learn more about people’s ecoeriences and I become more involved and passionate.
I thought the showcase that talked about a study on nature and parks in urban cities was very interesting. The study made showed a link between children’s behavior and the amount of nature/park exposure they had living in a city. It was interesting but not surprising to learn that the study found that having more exposure had a positive impact on children’s health. Living in a city, I understand why this is so important and I think in the future it is something that should be more research and studied.
For the panel session, I choose the one on sustainability. The session discussed what we can do and what opportunities there are out there for us to do, like volunteering at the greenhouse. We discussed a lot of ways we can all become leaders and help make the campus and community a more sustainable place, and effective tools for doing it. Overall it was very interesting and I learned a lot.
I thought using the skit/play as a form of advocacy was a really interesting way to get the word out and is definitely very effective in some contexts, but it wasn't my personal favorite method. One of the showcases I visited was the level of safety citizens felt in Ward 3 compared the level of crime and it was really interesting to see how unsafe some individuals felt despite the low levels of crime, especially compared to other parts of DC.
Sustainability is Soemthing that we all should strive for, and it goes hand and hand with service. Because it can bring a community together and there are many ways to work towards a more sustainable future. One way if definitely through motivated and driven volunteers dedicated to working towards a more sustainable future.
For Part II, I attended a session on asset based community development in Wards 7 and 8. We discussed how DC is very divided based on race and economic boundaries and how even though it is a Chocolate city with a majority black population, it doesn’t seem that way because the majority of the African American population is east of the Anacostia in wards 7 & 8. Asset based community development(ABCD) is more beneficial that just regular service because no community wants to have strangers come in and tell them how their lifestyle should be and how they can be “fixed.” It accounts for the culture and diversity of an area and realizes that each community is unique in its strengths. Just because these potential strengths may not be mainstream or common doesn’t make them any less valuable.
I chose the Art in Social Action. They talked about one organization I am familiar with, Life Pieces to Masterpieces. I learned that this art-based organization is very successful and has improved the lives of many kids by encouraging artistry. They did speak of being humble, and to not try to think we know the problem any better than the people who are experiencing it, this has been addressed in class in various occasions. I really liked Babies Behind Bars because the presentation was short and had good information. I also learned more about the topic.
The sustainability panel was very informative. It redefined my definition of sustainability as I learned more about a topic I have great interest in. I also appreciated the various points of views presented from current students that have a diverse background of majors and faculty.
1. While I have not done advocacy myself, I think art has a place in cultivating the emotional ties and investment necessary to make advocacy as effective and convincing as possible. Great performance!

2. I liked the one on New Venture Competition - it was short, to the point, well structured, and easy to comprehend and understand.

3. I chose Art as Social Action, which talked about the applications of art in community building and personal improvement. I feel like I understand more applications of art in service, as to me it's not a noteworthy part of my life, and therefore doesn't really come to mind when considering service outlets. Also, good job Maureen, Quiara, and Fasica!
1.The performance was really moving and no buy service has never lead me to do advocacy

2.The shows presentation was about Gender and hip hop culture. I think they were on to something extremely important in a large driving force in society.

3.Art as social Action is the panel session that I chose to attend and we spoke about how Art can be a way to connect with people and identify with people and having a common ground.
Panel session:
Art as a social activity. How art is used throughout DC to serve many purposes. Someone talked about serving at Miriam's Kitchen, which is very similar to DCCK. She talked about her experience of drawing with the people she served to acknowledge them and create a calm space. There isn't this kind of space for art in DCCK, but I understand how art can be helpful for communities and people facing struggles.
The arts make it easier to start a conversation on the topic that requires the change. I think that the theatre performance specifically allowed us to feel more comfortable speaking about sesenitive topics like immigration and finding solutions respectively.