Skip to main content

Phone apps, sidewalk guerrilla marketing help teach about gender and violence

students construct a chalk timeline on sidewalk outside Wilson Hall
January 09, 2014

Sidewalk guerrilla marketing, planning informational campaigns and shooting Vine videos are some of the learning assignments that are part and parcel of Alesha Durfee’s approach to her teaching in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ School of Social Transformation. 

Durfee, associate professor of women and gender studies, does research on intimate partner violence and teaches courses at the intersection of justice studies and women and gender studies. Part of bringing her research expertise into the classroom translates into engaging students in activities that take them out into the campus community to create awareness and break the silence about domestic violence.

As class projects, her students have organized tabling events outside ASU’s Memorial Union, offering information on how to recognize intimate partner violence and where to go for support. Last fall, Durfee’s students created an on-campus information event as part of the month-long Paint Phoenix Purple domestic violence awareness campaign. Students also organized the Clothesline Project, where t-shirts created by survivors shared messages about domestic and sexual violence, and were on display on the lawn of ASU’s Student Services Building. It’s a project Durfee says her students in next fall’s WST 375: Women and Social Change will organize again as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

In November, students in her course WST 394: Women and Crime created a chalk timeline on a stretch of sidewalk outside Wilson Hall that encapsulated U.S. domestic violence activism and policy through the years. [see the video about this learning experience] 

“Students took a rather dry chapter in one of our texts, full of facts and figures, and divided it up into manageable sections to digest and summarize,” Durfee says. “They used the timeline to teach each other, and at the same time to take what they’re learning and share it beyond the classroom.” 

Challenging students to encapsulate all that they’d learned about intimate partner violence, she also had student teams in this course create and then critique six-second Vine videos as one of their final assignments. 

“A lot of the most popular Vine videos are humorous, so it was hard for students at first to switch to thinking about using this app to treat a serious topic, but they did some neat, informative treatments,” Durfee says.

In spring 2014, Durfee is teaching WST 477: Women and Violence.