Pipeline to justice
The P2J model is based on four specific goals: 1) Fostering positive peer support and a sense of a ready made ‘home’ community; 2) Creating socially relevant curricular and co-curricular learning experiences including internship placements that link social justice to academic subjects; 3) Affirming community ties that build confidence and a sense of continuity for incoming P2J students, framing their home communities as a contiguous with, not external to, the overall learning environment; 4) Sustaining a team of faculty mentors who support the whole person and affirms the community service/ engagement components of who the students are, as well as their on campus student identities. The ultimate goal is 100% successful graduation rate followed by a continued career as a social justice worker or working in a field doing work through a social justice lens. This pipeline, we hope, will not end with graduation. By selecting P2J incoming students who have already demonstrated commitment to community service, social justice work and leadership, we expect they will used the skills and credentials acquired at UIC to continue this work in oppressed, and under-served communities, and around socially relevant issues.
1. Peer support. A key variable is the cohort factor. The P2J group will sign off on a peer support plan in which they will assist one another in navigating their way from enrollment to graduation. This is similar to the highly successful and widely applauded Posse Program, in effect at 48 colleges and universities. P2J, like Posse, provides “a model to identify promising students from…urban backgrounds using an alternative set of qualities as predictors of success in college. …The students that are selected form a ‘Posse’ and are provided with extra supports, and end up graduating from selective colleges with a very high success rate.”
2. Co-curricular programming will augment classroom learning and community based engaged research projects facilitated by SJI, coordinated with a class assignment or independent study. This support system and reinforced learning environment expects to achieve greater success and higher graduate rates among this cohort.
3. Community Connections. Communities, organizations, religious and spiritual entities, and extended and fictive families are the support structures that prepare target students for college, sometimes contributing wisdom, funds, protected time, survival strategies and skills necessary for success at the elementary and high school levels. However, there is often a ‘disconnect’ when students arrive on university campuses. Some students feel as though they have landed in another country when they arrive on campus and they do not speak the local language. Therefore, fostering ongoing links to home communities through service, engaged learning, and by bringing community based thinkers and leaders into university spaces, we break down the binary of ‘community’ versus ‘campus’ and students feel less alienated. Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire argued for the critical importance of context and culture in creating positive learning environments.
4. Sustaining Mentorship. UIC has a number of mentorship programs to enhance student success, however, this program is based on shared intellectual and civic interest in social justice research and praxis.