Community Classroom program launches to bring University resources to public

Brooke Ontiveros

The Center for Community Engagement will offer three low-cost, six-week classes allowing members of the Austin community to access the University’s resources and faculty.

The Center for Community Engagement distributes University resources to the Austin community to meet community priorities, according to the official website. The three classes offered by the new program, called The Community Classroom, will focus on fostering conversations about equity and access to local communities. 

One class, called Race in America, will highlight race in contemporary political and social climates. Creating, Preserving, and Telling Our Stories will explore the gentrification of Austin’s neighborhoods, and The Art of Building Social Impact will address leadership in community building and social centers, according to the center’s website. 

Starting this month, the classes will finish by the end of November and will cost $45 to $55 with fee waivers available, according to the center’s website.

“Community members … can gather knowledge about conversations around equity, access and community advocacy,” said Virginia Cumberbatch, Director of Equity and Community Advocacy for the Center for Community Engagement. 

The three classes will be available in different locations to promote accessibility, Cumberbatch said. She said Race in America, based off the Undergraduate Studies course Race in the Age of Trump, will teach community members about racial issues across the nation by providing examples within the context of Austin.

“The issue of race in America … is something everyone talks about,” said Leonard Moore, Vice President of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and professor of the Race in Age of Trump course. “To take this intellectual experience of campus to students of all ages is something I am excited about.”

Providing working people the opportunity to share their knowledge and insights makes The Community Classroom unique, Cumberbatch said. 

“The community students will be a little more set in their political viewpoints, but I look forward to that,” Moore said. “I look forward to people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, possessing different educational backgrounds and perspectives.”

Rene Otero, international relations and global studies freshman, said he is taking Race in the Age of Trump. Otero said the class teaches students to think through multiple racial lenses, and everyone should learn to think this way.

“You can look at race with statistics, but this class is based on narratives and ideologies, and so this is a skill for interactions with all people,” Otero said.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to clarify the titles of Virginia Cumberbatch and Leonard Moore.