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Curriculum as Community Building

The Poetics of Difference, Emergence, and Relationality


Liesa Griffin Smith

Our contemporary historical moment is often characterized by social, political, economic, technological, and educational complexities, as well as lived experiences of estrangement, isolation, insecurity, loss, threat, and trauma. Within this difficult context, conventional understandings of community which often rely upon assimilation or exclusion are devoid of hope, and new imaginations of community and community building are needed to cultivate generative, nurturing, sustaining experiences of life together. Through a multi-threaded exploration of the curriculum as embodied and emerging in a living ecosystem, new conceptualizations of community building may emerge. Drawing upon poststructural feminism, poetics, autobiography, and metaphors of the maternal body, this book explores the complicated intersections of difference, embodiment, emergence, and relationality within the curriculum, to reimagine the possibilities of building the other community, one inclusive of difference. Facing the challenges of our time with hope, grace, and creativity, this book is uniquely positioned in a middle space between the theoretical concerns of the academic community and the needs for accessibility by the practitioner within an instructional context.

"As all great books do, Curriculum as Community Building introduced me to something I hadn’t thought about before—the intersections between curriculum, community, and autobiography. Smith elegantly considers several motifs, weaving, hostess, soil, in order to help us understand how to move in the world—by returning to the/our/a past and becoming mindful of how curriculum can serve as community building. This view is an essential way to think about how to respond to the 'narratives of estrangement, exile, and trauma,' that exist in society today. Smith’s book is a must-read for those interested in community building, service-learning, and curriculum."—Jacqueline Bach, Louisiana State University