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Social justice pedagogy and teacher-student activism : a collaborative study of school-based projects Lund, Darren E.


This research seeks a clearer understanding of the field of social justice education in Canada. Informed by multicultural and antiracist pedagogy, I explore the theoretical underpinnings and practical realities of this work among 11 activist Alberta teachers and students. Collaborative interviews with these participants reveal portraits of current activism in voluntary coalitions in secondary schools. Through guided critical self-reflection, fellow activists and I examine forming and sustaining ongoing projects. I present guiding hypotheses and assumptions that steer this research, and a theoretical framework that accommodates complex intersections of "race," class, gender, sexual orientation, and other considerations of social justice pedagogy and activism. This research addresses omissions in the educational literature; one such gap is a lack of research attention to young people—particularly to their role as active participants in social justice movements. In addition, I address teachers' previously undervalued role as crucial participants in educational policy development, reform efforts, and research on social justice education. Attending to the relatively few accounts of school-based action projects, I describe the integrative STOP model of student and community activism. An overview of the unique Canadian and regional contexts and recent political developments around social justice issues, and a summary of relevant research and theory from British and American literature, suggest specific areas of contention, influence, and overlap of relevance to this study. I employ a qualitative research methodology using a specific collaborative approach, and include details of participant selection, data gathering and analysis, and ethical considerations. Two chapters develop my research results along the lines traced by my guiding hypotheses. A concluding chapter outlines the specific significance of this research, factors that promote coalition-building, and promising avenues for further scholarly study. A value of this investigation is the rich offerings from my participants, whose reflections on their work are solidly grounded in understandings of daily activism. Their contributions show the potential mutual benefits of respectful research collaborations that both reveal and share the wisdom of social justice practitioners as theorists.

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