Give and Take: Reflecting on Helping Others

Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

community studies, writing, analog game design, women's studies

To whom do we give, and from whom do we take? What is the social "language" of giving and receiving? And what characterizes respectful and mutual relationships between givers and receivers of services, in professional settings? We’ll read, think and write about these questions first in our own lives, and then within the contexts of the human service, medical, writing, teaching, law, community organizing and social justice professions. Writing will be our primary (though not the only) mode of inquiry, as we acknowledge and learn from attention directed toward our own lives and those of others.

Members of Give and Take will draw on empathy and personal experience in addition to our readings, to produce short pieces of story- and experience-based nonfiction. Because this is in part a writing program, it is also a reading program; participants will be expected to read carefully factual and creative assigned texts, with attention to both content and the writer’s craft. Our work in class will include instruction in making decisions ethically, in reading for information and to understand and appreciate creative texts, and in writing to engage and educate readers. Another important part of our work together will be discussing our readings and the writing produced by program members.

In all program efforts, we will be especially attentive to the following lines of inquiry and their implications: how best to address inequities and complexity within service relationships, and how to draw on personal energy and knowledges to serve the common good. To lend our classroom work particularity, one focus will be on relationships and reciprocity between people who are abled and people who are disabled by prevailing environmental and social arrangements. Sustainability of personal efforts to reach out to others will be an important consideration.

Program participants must be willing to share their writing with all program members for response, in person and in a program-only space online. Previous creative writing experience is not required. Please note that this is not a psychology program, although our work will center on working with people; we will draw on tools and methods of analysis from the fields of writing, literature and ethical decision making.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Writing, human services, teaching, medicine, law, community organizing and social justice work  

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Weekend

Advertised schedule: 9a-5p Sat


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$26 for an out of print text entitled Exile and Pride.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

(8 credits): 30033

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