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The ESDG Higher Education Accredited Program is dedicated to researching and developing a university accredited program in ESD. College students will have the opportunity to receive empowerment self defense (ESD) instructor certification upon completion of the curriculum and passing of the ESD instructor assessment.

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Stephanie Cyr, J.D.

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Beth Bowman, MEd, LPC


Dr. Gal Harmat, Ph.D.

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Kim Rivers

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Jocelyn Hollander, Ph.D.

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Darlene DeFour, Ph.D.

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Carrie Slack, MSW, LCSW

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Michelle Johnson Blimes

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Jay (Janet) O'Shea

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Giovanna Follo, Ph.D.

Mission: Establish ESD training, instructor certification, and research on higher education
campuses worldwide by creating a minor/concentration/certification accredited program.

● Make ESD training more affordable and accessible to individuals.
● Provide opportunity for ESD Global trainer certification.
● Further advocacy and research of ESD as an evidence based violence prevention strategy.

Students Benefit
● Learn ESD for their own safety and safety of their community
● Become advocates for ESD/violence prevention programs
● Gain employment opportunities as a certified instructor
● Exposure to research opportunities in violence prevention field

● Satisfies violence awareness and prevention training requirements for incoming students
● Reduces incidents of violence towards students on/off campus
● Increases students’ employability
● Strengthens ties with community surrounding school

What is it?

The curriculum for ESD Level 1 Instructor Certification will provide students with the competency
to teach an introductory ESD class to students in a variety of class lengths from a 1 hour
introductory workshop to a 10-12 hour basics class.

The integrated program offers students an opportunity to learn and teach an evidence-based
primary violence prevention system designed to provide skills to interrupt, stop, prevent and
heal from interpersonal violence. Students will learn how to identify abuse, coercion, and
boundary violations. They will be able to teach others how to communicate assertively and
advocate for oneself and how to physically protect oneself from violence perpetrated by
intimates, acquaintances and strangers.

Learning Outcomes.


Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:
● Identify the physiological, psychological and social aspects of gender based violence.
● Teach, demonstrate, and apply a wide range of mental, verbal, and physical strategies to
avoid or interrupt violence.
● Utilize an intersectional feminist lens to analyze how systems of oppression perpetuate
abuses of power in interpersonal relationships
● Apply trauma informed pedagogy to an ESD class or workshop

Requirements for Instructor Certification.


The certificate requires completion of 15-21 units
comprising an interdepartmental minor, associates degree, concentration, or certification
depending on the school. Graduate study programs may take into consideration a student’s
previous studies as an undergraduate when assessing curriculum/credit requirements. Each
course must be completed with a final grade of “C” or higher or Pass.


All students will take courses, internships and independent study options covering the
exploration of the following topics. Steps can run concurrently.

STEP 1. On campus ESD course. Mental and verbal strategies such as situational awareness,
boundary setting, de-escalation, and upstander intervention are introduced. Basic physical
moves are taught.

STEP 2. Physical Training. Can be completed on campus in ESD class, kinesiology class or
off campus with advisor approval as long as the following subjects are addressed: strikes,
targets, blocks, combinations, addition of voice, scenarios, and pedagogy. Specifically, how to
teach skills to others - how to help them discover what works best for them. *Perhaps best
learned as a TA or internship to ESD instructor.

STEP 3. Studies. Studies addressing each of the following subjects. In depth understanding of
issues and intersectionality relevant to ESD. Department location and course name will vary
with each university so course requirements are listed in terms of essential knowledge acquired.
For all subject areas, students will develop the analytical, research, and facilitation skills
necessary to investigate, understand, analyze, explain, and improve the world around them as it
relates to ESD training.

1. Gender and Feminist Theory. Exploration of the importance of gender and feminism in relation to issues such as race, class, sexuality, labor, colonialism, multiculturalism and globalization.
2. Introduction to Sociology. Introduction to the study of people in their social context.
General overview with specific areas of interest listed below as electives.
3. Gender Based Violence. A course focused on dimensions of gender based violence
experienced in the U.S. and internationally, including sexual violence, physical violence and perpetrators of violence.
4. Trauma informed teaching. Introduction to basic principles. The definition of trauma and its prevalence. How to recognize the symptoms and responses to trauma in your students. How to provide a learning space of safety, trust, collaboration, and
empowerment. Introduction to Grounding Exercises
5. Pedagogy. Introduction to teaching that reflects an understanding of the students’
backgrounds and of how to present material in relevant, meaningful ways- cultural
context and meeting students where they are.
6. Practicum. Assisting with a class for credit - On or off campus. TBD hours of assisting with mental, verbal and physical skills for ESD facilitation training requirements.

All students would ideally take one (1) or more courses from the selection of topics below. The
point is to delve deeper into a particular group or area as it relates to self defense training.
Where does the student want to develop trainers, advocates or researchers in ESD? Where
does their particular interest lie?

●  LGBTQ community
●  BIPOC community
●  Law enforcement
●  Domestic violence
●  Peacebuilding initiatives
●  Intercultural Communication
●  Psychology of Trauma
●  Pedagogy
●  Public Speaking
●  Statistics/Research

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