Thursday, June 6, 2013

Social Justice Pedagogy

Hello, SJL community! In recent weeks I have been asked to step up my social-justice game in a couple of significant ways, which I have found very humbling. It is not a game of course; it is important work. But doing good work with good people in support of human rights is more rewarding than any game.

Most readers of this space will have already heard of the first challenge. As Dr. Jonathan White has moved with some reluctance on to Bentley University, the leadership of SJL has asked me to serve as advisor to the organization. I will never be able to mentor and advise in the way that JWhite so ably did. I take the trust placed in me very seriously, though, and have already begun to work with the excellent leaders of SJL to ensure that the group continues to build on its proud legacy at BSU and in the world beyond.

This blog was not my idea, but those who know me well know that blogging has become a way of life for my family. I think blogging by SJL leaders (that means officers and others who take on significant responsibilities) can be used to communicate more effectively about the ideas and ideals of SJL as well as to provide richer detail about projects and events, in a way that is easy to share through social media.

Shortly before this transition, I was approached by a colleague in the Geography Department -- Professor Phil Birge-Liberman (a BSU graduate, by the way), who suggested that we write a proposal for a summer institute to help other faculty members to integrate social justice into their teaching. This proposal was for a track to be offered in the high-profile Summer Institute that has become a recent tradition at the end of each summer at BSU, with considerable financial support from the university.

We were very pleased to be one of only two pedagogy tracks selected for the institute this August, and look forward to work with sixteen faculty members, including full-time and part-time instructors from more than a dozen departments. We will share with them some of our insights, but are most interested in what we will learn, as these educators grapple with how to approach matters of social justice in the context of their own teaching goals and style, and from the perspective of each discipline.

I am including the list of professors below, without anything specific about the goals of each professor, simply to let students know just how broad interest in this subject is on our campus.

Heidi Bean, English
Jessica Birthisel, Communication Studies
Fernanda Ferreira, Foreign Languages
Joshua Irizarry, Anthropology
Jonghyun Lee, School of Social Work
Karen Lema, Special Education/Lang. Disorders
Deniz Zeynep Leuenberger, Political Science
Ronald Maribett, Geography
Khadija Monk, Criminal Justice
Melissa Santos, English
Yasar Say, Anthropology
Ellen Scheible, English
Jonathan Shirland, Art/Art History
Lidia Silveira, Special Ed./TESOL
Jerry Steinhofer, Philosophy
Lisa Troy, Theater

With these discussions taking place in August, the fall semester promises to be one of many new ideas!

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