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ENGL 121 A: Composition: Social Issues

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
BNS 115
Photo of Rasheena Fountain standing at a microphone
Rasheena Fountain

Syllabus Description:

English 121: Composition: Social Issues 

MW 8:30am to 10:20am

Instructor: Rasheena Fountain

Office Hours: MW 2-3pm via Zoom and appointment.



 In this course, you will question sustainability, in an environmental sense and in terms of personal sustainability, through journal assignments, multimodal projects, and other writing across media projects. The UN’s definition for sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” You will think about how your organization works towards sustainability. Even if your organization is not grappling with what is traditionally seen as environmental concerns, we will see where your organization’s goals fit within the course’s more malleable definition of sustainability. For example, you might be working with an organization that helps fight displacement or an organization that provides necessities to unhoused populations. These organizations are working toward sustainability: ensuring resources and “meeting the needs” of a particular population. You will examine how community organizations work toward sustainability and what concerns and threats make their work necessary.

 In my experiences doing service work, I’ve learned that personal sustainability is key. Although volunteering or working for an organization involves buying into the organization’s mission in some ways, I do believe that YOU and YOUR VOICE matters in service work. Your lens and internal conversations toward sustainability come with you as you do service work. In this course, you will reflect on your life experience and how this helps you bring a unique perspective into the work. We will look at the history of volunteerism and savior mentality and will engage in readings about personal sustainability. This is not to critique the organizations you find yourself in (though this may arise). Instead, our deep engagement in discourse surrounding service work is to help you be intentional in how you show up in spaces and places. I hope that this intentionality will enhance the quality of your contributions in an organization and give you the sustenance for a beneficial experience within your organizations.  Last and very important, most of us are guests on this land. In this course, we acknowledge the Coast Salish Peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Duwamish, Puyallup, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. All our conversations will operate within land-based pedagogy, and we will examine how settler colonialism influences our experiences with and on this land.

The course goals will be achieved through striving for the following outcomes:


Outcome 1: Develop the ability to recognize and write for different audiences and contests 

Outcome 2: In corporate multiple types of evidence in order to generate and support our writing 

Outcome 3: Produce complex, persuasive arguments that demonstrate stake and value

Outcome 4: Learn strategies that will allow us to revise and edit our writing both effectively and efficiently

Writing is the focus of this course, but you will approach learning the English Writing Program Outcomes through immersive engagement with community service organizations. Students will volunteer for 20 to 40 hours throughout the quarter. The volunteer experience will give students the opportunity to develop writing that is responsive to their volunteer organization’s needs and mission. Students’ experiences within service learning, will allow them to adopt the land-based pedagogical approach of the class. Through land-based pedagogy, students will focus their writing beyond the classroom and the instructor as the audience.

Course Texts and Materials

Access to class canvas page for assignment submission and additional readings. 

  • Laptop (for in-class and homework assignments)
  • Color pencils or markers 


Course Assignments

I will remind you to revisit the EWP Writing Outcomes as you develop writing with your service learning organizations so that you make these connections in your work. I will also ask you to keep a journal with your thoughts, observations, and self-reflections as you volunteer. Some of these journal entries will be guided by prompts I present to you in classes, but feel free to write in your journal as often as needed as a self-reflective practice. The first short assignment will be to asset map the community in which they work. The second short assignment will be to compose a claim and annotated bibliography for the research paper.  For the first major paper, students will reflect on the themes they explored in their asset maps to pick a topic for a research paper. The third short assignment will be to write a digital “I am from” poem and to reflect on your own positionality and upbringing. The second major paper will be to reflect on the organization’s sustainability goals, your personal sustainability goals and community goals, to write a narrative essay. For the final project, you will reflect on what you learned from your organizations to create a Final Gift for the organization, the community where the organization lives, and yourself. Please communicate with me well in advance if you need help or extensions on due dates. 

Catalog Description: 
Focuses on the study and practice of good writing: topics derived from a variety of personal, academic, and public subjects. Includes a service-learning component allowing students to engage with and write about social issues in applied ways. Prerequisite: may not be taken if a minimum grade of 2.0 received in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
GE Requirements: 
English Composition (C)
Other Requirements Met: 
Service Learning
Last updated: 
August 24, 2021 - 10:23pm