University of Connecticut students and faculty are holding a free non-violence activism training session Saturday, April 1 on the Storrs campus in Manchester Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All students are welcome and lunch will be provided.
Juan-Pablo Yepes Tobón, a fifth-semester sociology major, and Laura Augenbraun, a sixth-semester mathematics and journalism double major, pursued the idea of these training sessions while doing an independent study on environmental justice leadership during the fall 2022 semester, according to Tobón. Phoebe Godfrey, a professor of sociology at UConn and the advisor for the independent study, then told them about the Office of Sustainability grant.
Their goal was to put what they had learned about social justice into action.
“You learn more by doing than you do by just reading about it,” says Tobón.
Along with providing funding for events, the grant allowed them to train a group of 10 students who have since gone into classrooms to teach other students about social justice, mindfulness and environmental activism. They also plan to hold an event on Earth Day.
The group itself is run as equitably as possible, according to Godfrey, with no single leader.
“The ends have to be represented in the means; you can’t achieve social justice or just sustainability unless you do it in a way that reflects the structure that you want to achieve,” Godfrey said.
The group held two other sessions earlier this semester, one on mindfulness and one on sociocracy.
This upcoming session will feature Joanne Sheehan and Shateeka Phillips as guest speakers. According to their biographies, Sheehan is a resistance studies fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As the co-founder of War Resisters League New England, she has been an activist, organizer and trainer for over 48 years. Phillips also works with the War Resisters League and specializes in youth workshops.
Tobón hopes that attendees will take what they learn and apply it to more than just activism.
“Strategizing […] isn’t secluded to the realm of non-violent activism; it is literally just learning how to strategize when tackling any problem,” Tobón said.
“The goal is for students to find their voices,” Godfrey said.
Registration for the event can be found here. Questions or requests for more information can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.