Social Justice Pedagogy & Cultural Democracy: Promoting Inclusion & Equality in Further & Higher Education

Authors: Gabriel, D. and Richards, A.

Start date: 8 January 2016

As student populations become more ethnically diverse, issues around attainment, satisfaction, exclusion and discrimination have become more prevalent. Approaches that focus on institutional culture are gaining more currency, representing a shift away from deficit models. The curriculum represents a key terrain for ongoing struggles for inclusion and equality, since in most education institutions it is largely derived from white, male, European, middle and upper class experiences. This creates marginalisation and exclusion for students that do not fit this dominant cultural model while reinforcing power and privilege for those from dominant groups. This article discusses an evaluation of handbooks, briefs and resources conducted for a further education programme within a tertiary arts education institution, approached conceptually through social justice pedagogy and cultural democracy. Social justice pedagogy is concerned with creating educational environments ‘conducive to engaged, critical and empowered thinking and action’ (Hackman, 2006, p.103), while cultural democracy advocates for cultural issues and social justice to be placed at the heart of curriculum development (Aldridge, 2000). Using the evaluation report, combined with staff and student workshops as a case study; this article proposes social justice pedagogy and cultural democracy as powerful and complementary forces for social change to create an inclusive environment where all ethnic and cultural groups can be equal and active participants.

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