Think Globally, Act Locally: Community-Engaged Comparative Politics
by Amy Risley, Rhodes College
This article describes how comparative politics specialists can adopt community-engaged strategies and other innovative pedagogies to emphasize local–global connections. It discusses a comparative course on urban social movements that requires sustained, community-based learning. Students are placed in organizations advocating for refugee families, Latinx communities, and people in situations of homelessness. Engagement with community partners supports student learning in meaningful ways. Students apply social-movement theory to real-world situations, develop an understanding of activists and the communities they seek to empower, and gain intercultural competency by working with diverse groups. They also grapple with different modes of social action and models of citizenship. Most important, students learn to investigate activism comparatively through analysis of overseas cases. Bridging the local and the global in a single semester can be an arduous task, but undergraduates have embraced this challenge.