EDH 5931: College Student Populations is a graduate level course in the College of Education at Florida State University that challenges students to analyze, explore, and implement targeted advocacy efforts for a specific student population. The course involves reviewing the literature, examining current practice and pedagogy, and producing both scholarship and artifacts that deepen our understanding of the target population and that provide resources for future research and practice.
The identification of the target population emerged as a process of research, presentation, and debate. Each student in the course proposed a population via a brief presentation, discussing why advocacy was needed and how the population was underserved in our present higher education system. Ultimately, the class voted and chose “secular students” as the student population of interest in our work.
After much discussion, our population of interest was narrowed to students who identify as atheist. Atheist as an identity construction is notably more finite than that of secular identity, so atheism was chosen for its relative specificity, providing a key characteristic upon which to develop advocacy efforts.
During this course, students produced a collaborative advocacy paper in addition to individual non-traditional advocacy media. Non-traditional products represented virtually any form of advocacy other than an academic paper. Students also identified targeted stakeholder populations and produced brief reviews of ways in which specific stakeholder populations may be encouraged to advocate for student populations.