MSU's Residential Colleges Host Teach-In/Learn-In: Building a Just MSU

Teach In/Learn In Agenda

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
MSU Union Ballroom


Over the past month, Michigan State University has been in the national spotlight for the horrific actions of someone who worked among us for decades. The courageous statements of survivors revealed not only a predator in our midst, but also the deeply problematic culture and flawed institutional structures that allowed him to operate. Nassar is gone, but the environment that allowed him to operate remains in place. Inspired by the survivors’ bravery and determination, we know that we must rebuild MSU to make it a safer and more inclusive university.

In that spirit, the students, staff, and faculty of MSU’s three residential colleges have planned a day-long Teach-In/Learn-In on Tuesday, February 27, from 9:00am-6:00pm in the MSU Union Ballroom. Students, staff, advisors, alumni, faculty, and friends are invited to come together to share stories, ask and answer questions, and take our first steps toward building a better MSU.

A Teach-In is an act of protest that empowers participants to be agents of change. It began in 1965 at the University of Michigan as a way for faculty and students to address vexing issues of their day. A Teach-In requires all participants to be both teachers and learners, working together in the knowledge that the bounds of normal academic learning are too narrow to successfully confront the challenges we face. As such, a Teach-In intentionally disrupts daily routines and endows participants with the knowledge needed to build the culture they want to see.

We believe that the different emphases, expertise, and cultures of the three residential universities provide a unique opportunity for us to learn from each other and to forge a path forward together. In doing so, we can set an example for the entire university.

We encourage faculty think flexibly about how best to encourage your students to attend in ways that fit with your educational agendas, be it by holding classes at the teach-in, cancelling classes, or excusing absent students who attend the event. Students, please watch for information from your professors about how they will adapt their class schedules during the week before spring break.

Event Description


The event will begin with short welcome, including a land recognition and introduction to the format and planned events. This will be followed by session on deep listening and dialogue, in preparation for a moderated community forum in which students, staff, advisors, and faculty can discuss concerns and develop shared priorities. This will be followed by box lunch and then a series of breakout sessions that focus on more specific ideas and issues related to our current challenges.

Community Mural

In the morning through the end of lunch, a mural will be available that allows all participants to contribute to a word and art cloud that sets the agenda of why we are disrupting our schedules for the day to teach and learn. This mural will allow participants visually to emphasize the topics they think are most important, and will also result in artwork that could be displayed after the event.

Breakout Sessions

Some of the breakout sessions have been planned in advance with invited experts leading them. Examples include student voice, university governance, intersectionality, bystander training, and consent. These planned breakout sessions were organized with input from students, faculty, and staff at the three colleges, under the coordination of a steering committee from the three colleges.

Using an “unconference” style, other breakout sessions will be open to students, staff, and faculty to sign up for spontaneously on site. The mural created during the morning session will act as a guiding document for the afternoon’s open sessions. In the spirit of a teach-in, we are giving participants the space to articulate their concerns and empower everyone to make this the learning and teaching experience participants want it to be. In order to protect participants and to ensure these opportunities are met with the seriousness and sensitivity required, we will require that at least two student leaders and one faculty or staff moderator sign up for the sessions. Faculty and staff who are comfortable helping to moderate a student-led session will wear a ribbon or badge as a notifier. The steering committee is open to other thoughtful criteria that balances the spirit of open, grassroots organizing with the need for care in reality of the current campus climate.

We anticipate the community forum in the morning will spur ideas for participants to guide the agenda throughout the day. We propose open sessions in addition to the pre-planned sessions so that there are opportunities for students, with the help of staff and faculty, to have a say in what they want out of the event. Our hope is that students will take the lead and shape the event so that it is most beneficial to them. Students have expertise of their own to share. We imagine a wide range of topics will come up, including practical topics like community organizing and activism and cultural topics, like intersectionality or power and discrimination on college campuses. We also anticipate practice based topics, such as artmaking and performance will be among the kinds of sessions offered, contributing to the creative spirit of the event. Our hope is that students rise to the occasion and make the event their own.

Self Care and Safety

Safety and sensitivity are top priorities. We are inviting licensed counselors and trained professionals who will be onsite to assist and support participants.

Please see the schedule below.


Morning Plenary

9:00-9:30 a.m.      

Coffee, light breakfast, introductions

9:30 -12:00 p.m

Welcome session : Welcome, statement of purpose, land recognition

Training : How to listen and engage in meaningful dialogue

Community Forum : Sharing our stories. This will be an open discussion among students, staff, and faculty to share experiences across the colleges. This will be a moderated session during which organizers will walk through the room with microphones so that participants can speak.

12:00 -12:40 p.m.   

Provided box lunch and open session sign-up time

Afternoon Breakout Sessions (Between 4 and 6 simultaneous breakout sessions will be offered in each of the three time slots)

  • 12:40-1:30 p.m.

    • Who’s in Charge Here?: MSU’s Formal Power Structures (Dean Mark Largent)

      • Leading change requires a knowledge of the formal and informal power structures. Universities are organized in unfamiliar and complex ways, which makes influencing them - and the people who lead them - difficult. This session will introduce participants to how MSU is organized and how various leaders and offices on campus might be influenced by change agents.

    • Trauma Informed Care (Tashmica Torok, Firecracker Foundation)

      • More information to come soon.

    • (12:40-3:00 p.m.) Consent (Prof. Kathleen Livingston, Bhargavi Dixit, Meghan Hollister)

      • What does it mean to practice consent, beyond saying "yes" or "no?" This consent workshop uses theater games and writing to initiate a shift toward consent culture at MSU at the level of practice.

    • Open Session

    • (12:40-3:50 p.m.) Designing for Social Justice Studio (Prof Dylan Miner)  

      • In this workshop, participants will learn basic strategies for making effective social movement-oriented art and graphic design. The workshop will also provide a space for participants to learn basic screenprinting using a preprepared screen.

  • 1:50-2:40 p.m.

    • Student Voices and Protest (Student Representation in University Governance)

      • Given concerns over the lack of voice given to student leaders in university decisionmaking, this panel will focus on the ways that students can have more of an influence. This will be a solution-oriented discussion moderated.

    • Intersectionality (Prof. Rashida Harrison and Prof. Mark Axelrod)

      • This session aims to get students thinking more specifically about the experiences of different communities within our larger campus. We do this by first defining the concept of intersectionality, and next explore the usefulness of it as a frame to pursue our everyday initiatives that amount to justice and fairness. Participants should expect to engage race, gender, religion, nationality, class, etc. as it pertains to issues of safety on campus, as well as barriers to dealing with administrative entities.

    • Open Session

  • ​3:00-3:50 p.m.

    • ​Open Session

    • Open Session

    • Open Session

    • Open Session

Next Steps

4:00-4:30 p.m.    The three colleges will all come together again to reflect on what we have accomplished over the course of the day and to suggest next steps

Teach-In Panel Discussion: Building Community: Resisting Hate

4:30-6:00 p.m.
As part of the 3R Teach-in/Learn-in: Building a Just MSU, representatives from seven academic units will discuss the meaning of Richard Spencer’s appearance on campus, the dangers of the alt-right, the threats that these hate groups pose to our communities, and the importance of building community. Participants will include:
Dr. Lisa Cook (James Madison College and Economics)
Julia DeCook (Graduate student in Communication Arts and Sciences with a specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies)
Dr. Mohammad Khalil (Religious Studies Department and Muslim Studies)
Dr. Dylan Miner (RCAH and American Indian and Indigenous Studies)
Dr. Terese Monberg (RCAH and Asian Pacific American Studies)
Dr. Estrella Torrez (RCAH and Chicano/Latino Studies)
Dr. Naoko Wake (Lyman Briggs College, History, and Asian Pacific American Studies)
Dr. Kenneth Waltzer (Prof. Emeritus, James Madison College and Jewish Studies)
A public discussion will follow speaker presentations. This event is part of the tri-residential college teach-in on February 27 at the MSU Union Ballroom and is open to the wider university and community.

It is co-sponsored by James Madison College, the Residential College in the Arts of Humanities, Lyman Briggs College, the College of Arts and Letters, Jewish Studies Program, Muslim Studies Program, Asian and Pacific American Studies Program, African American and African Studies, the Center for Gender in a Global Context, Chicano and Latino Studies, and American Indian and Indigenous Studies.