Project: ‘Breaking Consent’

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Prentiss Haney of the Ohio Student Association presenting the organization’s mission statement at a Fellowship Program retreat (Columbus, 14 August 2015)

For the action-research project, Breaking Consent, Making Space for Racial and Economic Justice: The OSA Fellowship Program, I am an in-house geographer with the Ohio Student Association (OSA), an organization that promotes youth-led movements for social justice.

Early in 2015, I collaborated with OSA staff organizers (Malaya Davis, James Hayes, Stuart McIntyre, Molly Shack) and two graduate students in geography who were founding members of OSA (Guillermo Bervejillo at University of British Columbia, Meredith Krueger at University of Washington) to design an action-research methodology that lends momentum to OSA’s cultivation of group-centered youth leadership. We have since expanded our team to a seven-member ‘Strategic Reflection’ team. Our team’s focus on group-centered leadership challenges an enduring dichotomy in social movement theory and practice between hero-centered organizing and apparently leaderless or ‘spontaneous’ protest. Through purposeful journaling, video-documented reflections, and co-authored analysis alongside the 2015 iteration of the Ohio Student Association’s organizer-training program (the Fellowship for Community Change) we aim to transform young organizers’ frequent feelings of individual deficiency in the face of injustice into a collective analysis of social problems that demand collective action. We call this process ‘breaking consent.’

This project received financial support in 2015 from the Institute for Human Geography. We have presented findings from this project at the Conference on Critical Geography and the Mini-Conference on Policing and Race. Publications from the project are forthcoming.