CCST 227: Ahimsa:  Art and Soul Of Social Change 

  Art, Activism and New Media in Popular Resistance


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In this Course, Art and Soul of Social Change; Art, Activism and New Media in Popular Resistance, students will explore and develop an understanding of the ways in which art can facilitate positive social/cultural change, public dialogue, and build community.  Students will explore the relationship between ahimsa, (nonviolence) art, activism and social movements for positive social change. First, we will analyze the theoretical underpinnings of the ahimsa/nonviolence paradigm. Next we will examines how art can address pressing social, political, ecological and material issues and look at the works and the recent outpourings of artists/activists' protests and resistance that are addressing issues of gun violence, the environment, civil rights, freedom of expression  and equality, globalization, human rights, health care, and social justice among others. How can the arts affect social change in communities? This course challenges the understanding of what it means to be empowered and how to be an agent of empowerment. The class fosters students' ability to apply the arts as a catalyst for change in issues of discrimination and social injustice in the USA. and understand how social movements affect cultural and aesthetic practices. We will focus on some of the recent racial and political conflicts that have been significantly reshaped by the proliferation of digital media and the Internet as a means of instant dissemination of images, texts, and audiovisual expressions. The focus will be on considering the ways in which the cultural texts generated by resistance movements like "Black Lives Matter" the "#Me Too" and "It's On US" have reshaped/reshaping the contours of specific cultures. The course aims to address some important questions like, how do artists address social issues? How can art serve as a force for creating public dialogue? Are there different aesthetics for art with a social or political message? And, can art transform lives? Through class assignments, class participation and research projects students will address the above questions.




1.   Understand the workings of nonviolent social movements in countries around the world and  be familiar with basic vocabulary, concepts and principles of conflict management and resolution in the practice of art activism in social movement. 

2.   Identify some artists who are creating work in these arenas and knowledge of  the aesthetic, social, and cultural significance of their work.

3.   Understand the aesthetic implications and challenges of art that straddles the realms of the political, social, or cultural spheres

4.   Understand the changing role of the artist in society and their ability to organize and collaborate with others to affect positive social change


Suggested Readings

1.     Zunes Stephen, Kurtz and Asher,  Nonviolent  Social Movements, 1999 Blackwell

2.    Zinn Howard , The power of Non Violence, 2002 Beacon Press

3.    Felshin, Nina, But Is It Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism (1995)

4.    Glaser, Milton, The Design of Dissent (2005)

5.    Grande, John, Art Nature Dialogues: Interviews with Environmental Artists (2004)

6.    Kester, Grant, Art, Activism, and Oppositionality (1998)

7.    Lacy, Suzanne, Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art (1995)