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By Ana A. Lima
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 9, 1997

New class looks into the 'Isms' of race and gender


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Julia Balen, associate director of Women's Studies.

Capturing sexism, racism and other "isms" on video is the focus of a new class that will be offered at the UA next year.

"Crossing Boundaries, Diversity and Representation" will allow students to engage deeply in the issue of diversity by producing their own videos and participating in discussions.

"'Isms' are ways into which one takes power (over others)," said Julia Balen, associate director of Women's Studies.

The University of Arizona is one of seven colleges and universities that will participate in the 1997-1998 "-ISM (n.)" project.

The class is organized by the Institute for Public Media Arts in Durham, N.C., and funded by a $22,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

Other institutions participating in the project include the University of Central Florida, the University of Michigan and Central Washington University.

Balen, who is one of the instructors for the course, said the class is not like a regular class in which students sit in a room and read the material from a textbook.

The year-long, six-unit class will meet Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. Credit for the class is offered through the departments of Women's Studies and Media Arts. However, students of any major are welcome, Balen said.

She said she hopes the class will fulfill a general education requirement in the future.

Students will be required to spend time outside the classroom interviewing people and producing videos.

The class is a good opportunity for non-media arts students to have access to video equipment, Balen said.

Inside the classroom, students will be expected to participate in discussions about personal and political issues, she said.

"A lot of this is about giving voice to those who generally don't have it," Balén said.

Balen said diversity is an issue of concern in the UA community.

"This class is about engaging students with their own face-offs," she said.

"Bringing these issues to light is a positive thing," said Nathan Eldredge, a student at the University of Utah, who participated in the 1996 program there. "It may be offensive or extreme for some audiences, but so is racism, sexism and hatred."

Balen said she is looking for a group of 15 diverse students who are willing to use the material produced in class to play an active role in the community.

"(We are) looking for people who are interested in making a difference in their world," Balen said.

To register for the class, which is open to graduate students, juniors and seniors, students must go through an application process.

Applications for the class are now available at the Department of Women's Studies in Communication Room 108. The deadline to turn in applications is April 28. Balen said students will be selected by May 1.

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