In the spring of 2023, Charlene Holkenbrink-Monk, Ph.D. finished her dissertation. In her dissertation, she used an approach called Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR.) In this approach, the "researcher" center youth experiences, perceptions, and ideas for movement and action forward.
As a sociologist, she aimed to help foster what is called the sociological imagination, a term coined by C. Wright Mills (1959), where he essentially explains it as "where history meets biography." Through her innovative dissertation, she blended together sociology and education, where she taught research methodologies, and specifically youth participatory action research, to college freshman, discussed critical issues in society, instructed what the sociological imagination is and how to exercise it, and then the "participants," or research team members as she refers to them, developed lesson plans. An important factor for this study was that it disrupted cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1977) and centered community cultural (Yosso, 2005) wealth as meeting state standards is a necessity for teachers, but often "neutralize" or "sanitize" (as a team member referred to it) the realities of history and government. These lesson plans focus on 12th grade social studies standards and are pieces of institutional implementation, where we believe in how participatory action research and community-engaged research methods can make institutional practice more equitable and representative. Our goal, after all, is to transform systems, rather than merely reform them to reproduce inequitable and familiar practice.
On this page you can find those lesson plans. This is one example of what we can do as an organization to support your organizational or institutional goals. Interested in replicating this study or approach? Or perhaps interested in something else, but need some guidance? Do not hesitate to reach out.
In this lesson plan, the research team members developed an assessment with materials that encourages students to critical question how and what power is, how it takes place in government, and how media can influence decisions.
For this lesson plan, the research team members wanted to highlight the the various struggles between tribal and federal governments, and highlighted some of the sociohistorical realities, such as intersection of democracy, powers, and differences of government. Specifically, they wanted to highlight the ways that Indigenous tribal governments were often undermined and bring awareness to this issue from both a historical and modern perspective.
This lesson plan critically analyzes and encourages an understanding of different types of governments, how they work, and centered the ways that identities are incorporated, or not, many of the processes of government.