Kurt Organista teaches the first and only developed American Cultures Course with the School of Social Welfare, Social Welfare 150AC, Race and Ethnic Relations, and Social Welfare in the United States. This course is designed to analyze the parallel historical development of race and ethnic relations and the profession of social welfare.
Since its first offering, Kurt has expanded the focus of his course to grapple with intersectionality and using key sociological frameworks to understand today’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, including the criminalization of undocumented people. Since 2017, Kurt's course has implemented community engagement through the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program requiring students to complete 30 hours of community volunteer work aligned with course materials. Examples of such volunteer work include Catholic Charities of the East Bay workshops on immigration, and expunging the criminal records of formerly incarcerated community members; assisting with the delivery of integrated behavioral health care (IBHC) at La Clinica de la Raza in Oakland. Approximately twenty of Kurt's Spanish speaking Latinx students have volunteered at La Clinica to date, consistent with the mission of the School of Social Welfare's Latinx Center of Excellence to expand the Interdisciplinary Behavioral Health Collaboration (IBHC) workforce.
A principal feature of Kurt's course revolves around “flipping the classroom” by using required weekly reading reflections to assess how students are engaging the readings in real-time, respond to their questions, and validate personal and professional connections made, to enable students to bring other relevant materials into the classroom (such as new questions, news stories, cultural events), and centering student voices by sharing selective readings to lead the class discussion. Having this approach allows students to engage and energize by this personalized and community building method of grappling with complex course content. Watch Acceptance Speech.