CoreChange: Learning and Creating Tools for Eradicating Urban Poverty
A UC Forward class, Fall 2013
Faculty: Ilma Barros, Victor Garcia, Michael Zaretsky
CoreChange is a systems and strength-based strategic initiative that is uniquely structured to meet and address the most vexing challenges that are concentrated in a handful of core urban neighborhoods but inextricably effect our entire region. These issues include exceptionally high unemployment and underemployment, concentrated poverty, violent crime, low performing schools, and increasing health disparities particularly among children.
At its essence CoreChange a compendium of empirically based tools, methods, and practices (VIA, Appreciative Inquiry, Asset Based Community Development, systems thinking and related disciplines, and Design Thinking) that, in aggregate and when applied with robustness and rigor have proven to bring about unprecedented civic collaboration and sustained and profound change in individuals, organizations, and communities.
The outcome is a ‘different level of thinking’ and a departure from the ‘more efficient’ and ‘aligned with ideology’ initiatives to a more informed approach that enables students, participants and practitioners alike to see the ‘system’ and co-create more effective, sustainable, self-reinforcing, and innovative solutions.
CoreChange, the initiative, fosters more effective learning and design and at its best helps us to stop operating from crisis to crisis and to think in a less fragmented, more integrated way.
In the CoreChange class, students will learn how to seed and nurture an unprecedented level of civic collaboration that engages the community, at all levels, in learning how to think and behave in increasingly complex systems. They will see and learn how to navigate the cross-cultural issues that need to be considered when interpreting the balancing and reinforcing loops in the ‘system’. Working with community residents as peers, students will be introduced to the basic skills of seeing the ‘system’ so that they: see the whole system; learn how one can change perspectives to see new leverage points in complex systems; understand the importance of looking for interdependencies; consider how mental models create our futures; pay attention to and give voice to the long‐term perspective; go wide to see complex cause and effect relationships; find where unanticipated consequences emerge; focus on structure not on blame; make systems visible through causal maps; watch for win‐lose mindsets knowing they usually make matters worse in situations of high interdependence; and see oneself as part of not outside of the system.
This course is a unique and unparalleled opportunity to work with expert practitioners of these tools and with community residents and leaders.
And because some of the course work will take place in the community the course promises to be a tangible demonstration of the ability of CoreChange to catalyze unprecedented civic collaboration working towards developing prototypes into entities with a high likelihood of success in bringing better health, peace, and prosperity to our urban core.
The outcome of the course will be a digital tool that will compile the complex research and projects of CoreChange in a format that allows those working with the organization as well as those doing similar work in other communities to learn from the work being done by CoreChange.
The course will be led by Associate Professor Zaretsky, Dr. Garcia and Dr. Ilma Barros, though several other faculty and community leaders will be involved in the course throughout the semester.