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Spring Symposium on UR and Community Engagement has ended
Tuesday, April 24 • 8:40am - 9:00am
Working Toward a Pedagogy of Activism:  How Whites Approach Issues of Social Justice Interpersonally

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The purpose of this research is to investigate ways that college-aged white students approach issues of social justice interpersonally, primarily within their most intimate relationships wherein conflict and disagreement take place in complex and under-examined ways. To approach this study through a critical lens of whiteness necessitates a discussion of prior-conducted research on what we know about how whites talk and think about race. This literature has wide implications for advancing our collective understanding of how whites reproduce white racial dominance through color-blind ways of thinking, lack of critical awareness and discussion of whiteness, and lack of critical self-reflection. These investigations explore how white children undergo racial socialization, largely based upon the decisions and parental priorities of their guardians. Building off of these ideas and evidence, my research will investigate how white college-aged students understand their whiteness and their approach to activism as a result of their academic experiences. I will explore how these understandings then play out in familial and intimate relational interactions. In other words, as their understandings of whiteness evolve, how do white college-aged students racially socialize their families and close friends?   My research has also led me to recognize gaps in the literature surrounding what we know about the practice of teaching activism. Based on the literature I’ve observed, pedagogies of teaching and instilling consciousness of social justice and activism in educative settings lack any integration of critical whiteness theory as well as discussion of strategy for mediating personal and political points of contention with people they love. My research methodology has involved engaging seven college-aged white students in reflective dialogue surrounding questions of racial socialization, activist participation, academic experiences, and how these relate to and inform familial relationships. In response to the information and material I’ve collected, I argue that as we work toward developing a pedagogy of activism, we must consider tools for bridging gaps between white students and their families and simultaneously develop opportunities and space for more nuanced discussions of social justice with students before they reach higher education. Furthermore, I suggest an imperative move toward a careful integration of critical thinking surrounding our own identities and standpoints, with an ethic of love and care as we continue to navigate complex questions of how to be useful participants in political and social discourse as white students and graduates.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
236 Zageir Hall

Attendees (3)