Transitioning from Victims to Problem Solvers

What we plan to achieve

We want to stimulate interest in high school and college students to actively participate in resolving social issues facing their communities. We also want to give them access to tools and other valuable resources that will help them sustain their efforts. Lastly, we want to build the broad community capability to solve its own problems in consultation with others.

The problem

Many communities around the world do not take the initiative to identify and build the capacities of individuals, families, and organizations within their own communities to solve their problems.

The cause

A significant number of complex social issues that affect communities stem from many years of deliberately harmful institutional behaviors that persist today. The social oppression that results from these behaviors can have a lasting effect. One of them is that we often think and act more like victims than problem solvers even when the oppression stops.

Context

This shura borrows heavily from the activities of the Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS) at the University of Maryland Baltimore. This service concentrates its efforts in vulnerable communities with people who have been marginalized. Among the key efforts that have been identified are the following.

  • Identify and build the capacities of individuals, families, communities, and community-based organizations to solve their problems;
  • Demonstrate that the problems our society faces are solvable by creating, implementing, evaluating and publicizing model solutions;
  • Demonstrate to the larger society that all of its members have something valuable to contribute to the problem solving process; and
  • Remind people that inclusion and participation of all in problem solving will lead to more effective solutions.

Although SWCOS works with university students in the School of Social Work, this shura seeks to construct an effective approach of engaging high school and university students in community development activities without regard to the students' focused areas of study. It may be more practical to initially work with students in the U.S. but the intent is to involve students across the globe.

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