• 2014-15 EPF Project Winners

  • Education as the Practice of Freedom

Education as the Practice of Freedom Project

The Education as the Practice of Freedom (EPF) Project is an engaging, enlightening, empowering educational experience that will challenge you to critically analyze your purpose for pursuing higher learning and cultivate your passion for living. In our class, you will engage in student centered, interactive activities and robust dialogues about EVERYTHING! So make sure you bring an open mind and prepare to challenge perspectives, to question each other, me and most of all YOURSELF.

The purpose of the EPF Project is to create meaningful connections between what the students are learning and what they are living. Wherein the objective is not simply to help students “master” the tools of reading but empower them to read the world critically (Giroux, 1988). The curriculum speaks to the student’s curiosity about topics that are often marginalized in the dominant curriculum in a voice that is both culturally relevant and critically responsive. It moves beyond typical notions of education, to power discourse critiques, and the real purpose and promise of education- freedom.

Our goal is to facilitate the critical exchange of dialogue substantive of discussion that may unsettle, unnerve and disrupt the unexamined life. We aspire to inspire you. We hope that this class will raise many questions about who you are and the world you live in, and that we may apply our learnt perspectives in the praxis of our lives.

Fall Course Objectives: Education that Connects the Will to Know with the Will to Become.

The students will engage in critical self-reflection about the relationship between knowledge, self, and society and be challenged to pursue their education with a stronger sense of purpose. Students will learn about the psychology of success and how to effectively implement self-empowerment strategy for pursuing their purpose, such as: life management, critical literacy and reflection, AVID learning strategies, and more. They will delve in discussions, such as: what is knowledge and how is it socially constructed, facilitated, and acquired; how does knowledge affect how we see ourselves and the world we live in; how does knowledge affect how we live our lives and pursue our purpose; how do we apply knowledge to change the world and be the change we want to see; why knowledge is the practice of freedom – a means of finding, pursuing, and fulfilling our purpose.

Curriculum inspired by the following provocative pedagogues, poets, activist and artist used on our EPF Reader: bell hooks, Lupe Fiasco, Gabor Mate, Patricia Hill-Collins, M.K. Asante, George Carlin, Eric Tang, Mark Lamont-Hill, Angela Valenzuela, Will Smith, Simon Sinek, Lupe Fiasco, Gloria Anzaldua, Richard Wolff, Paulo Freire, Tim Wise, Michelle Alexander, Carol Dweck, Cornel West, Tupac, Jamila Lyiscott, Amiri Baracka, Ta-Nehisi Coates and more.

Spring Course Objectives: Transcending Education Beyond the Classroom into the Community.

The following spring semester, will connect theory to practice by proactively applying what they have learned about knowledge, self and society in order to effectively serve the needs of our east Austin community. Our students will engage in a critical analysis of challenges affecting the opportunity structure of community empowerment and work hand-in-hand with local residents, community service partners, and public officials to engage in asset based community empowerment projects, like: tutoring the youth, feeding the hungry, fixing computers, and planting trees.   Each student is challenged to reflect on the meaning and purpose of the project in hopes that they realize their actions can improve the lives of others and, ultimately, their ability to control their own lives. This transformative experience is documented in the creative digital stories are shared with the community at the #be_HT First Year Experience Summit.

Curriculum inspired by servant leadership of our proactive community service partners: African American Cultural Heritage District, Blackshear Bridge, Sustainable Food Center, Victory Tutorial, Urban Roots, Habitat for Humanity, Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition, The Sentencing Project, Inside Books Project, Boys and Girls Club, River City Youth Foundation, YMCA, HAND, Goodwill Central Texas, AIDS Service of Austin, Foundation For Homeless, African American Youth Harvest Foundation and more…

A Critical Pedagogical Approach:  We Teach to Change the World

The underlying concepts that thread our curriculum include: Power, Discourse, Social Consciousness, Identity Formation, and Agency. In essence, how our education affected how we imagine the world we live in, who we are, and how we go about living our lives. The pedagogy in this class will center around class discussion where knowledge is constructed by our learning community (yes, you, him, her and me). Students should expect to encounter and be prepared to engage in small group and large group activity, reflective writing, student led discussion/ instruction, individual and collective problem solving, peer review and critique of work, thinking from multiple perspectives, debate and role play. We encourage everyone to be active and engaged learners working to develop a welcoming classroom culture in which all participants feel safe to share their perspectives, critically examine and challenge one another’s assumptions, test new ideas, and construct richer understandings of the material in discussion.


Gina English Tillis


Student Syllabus and PowerPoints

EPF Syllabus       Be_HT      Be_Enlightened      Be_Engaged       Be_Empowered