Introductory Statement

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This semester, I conducted a course, Fine and Applied
Arts 391: Making Change Through Homelessness
Research (FAA 391), to upper-level undergraduate students.
Over the course of the semester, students had the
opportunity to engage a number of different social
change projects, each time examining the projects in
light of what they were learning about social change and
how they themselves were grappling with what social
change means to them. At the same time, students had
the opportunity to meet and get to know members of
Safe Haven, a self-governing community of unhoused
individuals here in Champaign-Urbana.
As an activist, graduate student and instructor, I
believe that we must engage these talented, yet largely
disconnected students at UIUC. The split between the
university and the community is large, but it can be
overcome through providing opportunities for students
and community members to learn from one another and
engage in mutually agreed-upon social action. The
classroom is an ideal place to begin to understand social
change but only if all involved are willing to leave the
classroom and dare to put their beliefs into action. As
this last month winds down, these students are doing
just that_they are literally taking their projects to the
streets to engage homelessness in creative ways that
challenge common stereotypes about people experiencing
homelessness and that challenge their own preconceived
What follows is a collaboration between FAA 391
and the Public i to publish the student projects for a
public audience. Included are brief accounts of the journey
these students have taken to figure out what social
change means to them and descriptions of the projects
meant to exact change through engaging the Champaign-
Urbana community. I hope that you too can
appreciate these students for what I see them as—the
next generation of people who dare to foster positive
change and growth in our community.

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