The Equity Center, U.Va.

The Equity Center

A UVA Democracy Initiative center for the redress of inequity through community-engaged scholarship



Student Coursework

Students who are interested in Community Engaged Scholarship are encouraged to take part in a Community-Engaged course taught by one of our faculty leaders. Each course listed below is delivered over two semesters. This extended format allows faculty and students to develop relationships with community stakeholders and complete substantive community-engaged work. We anticiapte each of these courses will be offered in Fall 2021.

AMST 3221 Hands-On Public History: Slavery & Reconstruction

Professor Lisa Goff
Enrollment: 12

Course Description: Public history is history that is delivered to a non-academic audience, often at historic sites, museums, archives, and on digital platforms. Some films, podcasts, fiction, and poetry might also be considered public history. This course will use all of those formats to investigate how the history of slavery in central Virginia is presented to the public. This course will use all of those formats to investigate how the history of slavery in central Virginia is presented to the public. We will critique how historic sites in the Charlottesville area, including the university, interpret this history, and identify the political and social impacts of these interpretations. For a full description, visit the UVA CCE website.

Fall 2020 Activities

  • Lisa Goff’s Public History students completed a number of in-person activities while adhering to the university’s public safety rules. These activities included a tour of the university’s Special Collections library, an African American history-focused tour of the UVA campus, independent tours of Monticello, and a field trip to Montpelier for a tour of the enslaved landscape.
  • Lisa livestreamed the tour of the Special Collections library, enabling students who could not attend in person to participate. These students also took virtual tours of Monticello and Montpelier.
  • Like her CCE colleagues, Lisa effectively used Zoom to bring these guest speakers into her virtual classroom: Gloria Gilmore and Robin Patton of One Shared Story, Professor Frank Gill, and Professor Kiki Petrosino. Topics included African American genealogical research, oral history, memory, ancestry, as well as practical how-to's for and digital mapping.
  • Students completed research into their own family histories, an activity that underscores the historicity in every family tree.
  • Students worked in groups to research historical African American residents of Louisa County and used Story Maps to create digital maps.

MUSI 3070 Introduction to Musical Ethnography

Professor Nomi Dave
Enrollment: 14

Course description: Why and how does music matter to human beings? What does musical experience look / sound / feel like to particular people and communities? And how can these stories be told ethically and creatively? This course introduces students to the study of music as a fundamentally social practice, through the research method of ethnography. As a class, we will develop a year-long ethnographic project, working collectively and collaboratively with a small number of musicians in Charlottesville. For a full description, visit the UVA CCE website.

Fall 2020 Activities

  • To protect the health of students and former community partners, Nomi Dave began the semester reconsidering how to define community, and imagining new ways for her students to engage with the local music communities.
  • MUSI 3070 students were asked to tour Charlottesville independently, an activity that would allow for physical distancing while students observed the soundscape.
  • Students connected with local musician, activist, and Charlottesville native Harli Saxon via Zoom. The discussion revolved around music during COVID—particularly the pressure that performing artists are under—and Black Lives Matter.
  • Nomi’s students will reconvene during the spring 2021 semester to move ahead with project plans they created in the fall. One group, for example, will be creating a podcast series about the Charlottesville music scene during the pandemic.

SPAN 3020 Grammar and Composition II: Writing for Social Justice and Change (#17218)

Professor Esther Poveda
Enrollment: 18

Course description: In these sections of SPAN 3020 and SPAN 3030, you will have the opportunity to grapple with advanced grammatical and writing skills while you read and discuss selected works by representative Latin American authors that have used writing as a tool for social justice and change, and by participating in a community engagement project. In this course, in addition to completing 15-18 hours of volunteer work with a local organization in the fields of immigration and education, health, or social work, you will deliberately use advanced grammatical forms to construct meaning and will produce texts in which grammar and meaning interact to lead to effective writing in Spanish. For a full description, visit the UVA CCE website.

Fall 2020 Activities

  • In years past, Esther has worked with Madison House to have her students placed in volunteer positions with their Latinx and Migrant Aid program, and with Max Luna for placements in the Latino Health Initiative. For the fall 2020 semester, many of Esther’s students were able to participate in Madison House’s new virtual tutoring program, created in partnership with Albemarle County Public School and with the Equity Center. UVa students provided support for Spanish speaking students learning in person and remotely.
  • In addition to tutoring, SPAN 3020 students volunteered to create Spanish-language STEM educational resources for Earth Science and Mathematics. This experience highlighted how there may be areas of need in bilingual education.

SWAH 1010 Introductory Swahili I (#15098 and #15009)

Professor Anne Rotich
Enrollment: 30

Course description: The Introductory Swahili language courses are designed to help students learn Swahili language and cultures for basic conversations with native speakers. Students will learn how to greet others, introduce themselves, and talk about a variety of topics of common interest. Students will also have an opportunity to explore, experience, and engage in some civic work in the Charlottesville Swahili immigrant community. Part of the course activities will involve engagement opportunities where students will share their culture and experiences with Swahili native speakers in Charlottesville while they discuss and address some of the Swahili speakers' interests. For a full description, visit the UVA CCE website.

Fall 2020 Activities

  • Like the MUSI 3020 students, Anne Rotich’s students spend much of the fall semester learning about the subject matter (in this case, improving their Swahili language proficiency) and formulating community-based plans for the spring semester.
  • Using Zoom, Anne invited a number of individuals from the local Swahili immigrant community to speak with her students about their daily lives and cultural differences they observe between Charlottesville and their birth countries.
  • These guest speakers, which the CCE program compensates for their time, also advise the students on how they may be able to contribute to the wellbeing of the Swahili community through group projects completed in SWAH 1020.

PLAN 6020: Methods of Community Research and Engagement 

Professor Barbara Brown Wilson 

Course Description: This semester long methods class is taught by Faculty Director of the Equity Center. It explores the ethics and methods beyond the conventional town-hall meeting format available for practitioners hoping to work in/with communities. You will be exposed to a range of research and engagement methods appropriate for use in community partnerships, including more traditional methods of qualitative research such as focus groups, interviews, charrettes, participatory action research, as well as strategies like asset mapping, visual preference surveys, games, and participatory budgeting. Group projects will allow students to apply qualitative research and engagement techniques while contributing to a local planning question.

This video was created as a final project for PLAN 6020: Methods of Community Research and Engagement by Dmitri Johnson