Writing to Imagine What is Possible

Writing to Imagine What is Possible

Overview: This activity asks students to think about the role writing can play in imagining a better world. It is a particularly useful exercise in times of worldwide protests of racial inequity and when there happens to be a global pandemic upending all of life as we know it.

Activity title: Writing to imagine what is possible

Author(s): Emily Polk

Course: PWR 1, PWR 2, or both

Activity length and schedule: This activity takes about 50 minutes. It is a great writing warm-up exercise. It works best in the week between the TiC and the first draft of the RBA.

  • 10 minutes: Introduce exercise and purpose
  • 15 minutes: Students write their answers to the prompt
  • 15 minutes: Students share what they have written in small groups
  • 10 minutes: Whole-class share-out

Activity goals:

  • Offer students an opportunity to think through the capacity for writing to create social change that speak to our current moment of multiple crises
  • Offer students a chance to process and engage the emotions they are experiencing through a creative writing assignment that helps them to see the value of writing
  • Offer students an opportunity to hone in on the significance of their own project as they begin to develop their argument

Activity details:

1. After mapping out where you are in the quarter in terms of their research, ask students to consider broadly the role of writing in our “current moment.” What are some possibilities for writing to create social change?

2. Introduce students to this bell hooks quote: “The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is-it's to imagine what is possible.” Ask them to change the word “art” to “writing”

3. Ask students to answer the following questions:

  • How do you think this quote speaks to our current moment? (Global pandemic, Black Lives Matter, global climate change, etc.)
  • How does this quote speak to your own research projects and your own goals for the project?

4. After 15 minutes of free-write, put students into small groups to share what they have written.

5. Come back together as a whole class and share writing, small group discussion, new ideas for moving forward, etc.

See Student Samples from this Writing (requires Canvas log-in)