One student worked with the Harvard Muslim Youth Program (HMYP) to build a supportive, online community space for Muslim youth in and around Boston. Another served as a home-health aide for the local elderly population in Arizona. Others focused on mentorship, jazz education, and student mutual-aid networks.
All of these endeavors were part of an engaged scholarship course “Care in Critical Times” taught this fall by Andrea Wright, lecturer in anthropology, Allston Burr Resident Dean of Eliot House, and assistant dean of Harvard College. Students learned how culture, society, and systems of power shape the exchange of care between individuals and communities, and they put their lessons into practice through semester-long “community care projects.”
“When I created this course, it was to explore gender, race, and class, and the ways in which they intersect with care,” Wright said. “It was about interrogating existing stereotypes surrounding who can and should care, and who isn’t expected or required to care. It became clear that this course was also a moment for us to reflect on our own humanity and to connect all of the pieces of the course to our local communities, specifically through radical acts of care. The students far exceeded my expectations for how seriously and sincerely they would engage with this topic, and how much it would mean to all of us, at this critical moment.”
All of the projects and related materials and resources now live in an online public syllabus that serves to reimagine and redefine care and inspire others to do the same. A few students recently spoke to the Gazette about their experiences.