Course teaches educators to infuse social justice into classes

Penn State York is now offering a week-long "Social Justice and Education" course to teach educators, counselors, and social workers to employ a “culturally responsive lens” in the classroom.

According to the university’s website, the course will be taught by Kathy Roy, associate professor of literacy education at Penn State Harrisburg and coordinator of the literary education program, and will focus on training educators to be "culturally responsive" toward their students.

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The course is also intended to address questions concerning “the needs of diverse student populations,” ways in which “students, teachers, and administrators benefit from culturally responsive approaches,” and other presumed benefits of “equity and social justice.”

In addition, the Social Justice and Equity in Education workshop will feature local artists who will share their perspectives on art in education “to celebrate community and diversity,” which Roy described as part of the course’s non-traditional approach, which also incorporates lectures and workshops put on by “nationally-renowned educators and scholars.”

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The school notes that Roy’s academic experience is “grounded in social justice frameworks,” saying her research primarily “examines the classroom and community experiences of new and existing refugee and immigrant populations in the U.S., focusing particularly on the intersections of race, culture, language, and other markers of identity.”

Francine Baker, coordinator of the master of education in Teaching and Curriculum at Penn State York, said the course will provide useful tools and techniques to “maximize the learning experience” in the classroom.

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“Every day, every teacher makes multiple decisions that impact social justice and equity in their classroom, school, and thus the community-at-large,” Baker explained. “Every student comes with their own story, beliefs, values and ideas. The summer institute at Penn State offers educators the research and strategies to support and expand educational practices that connect students and maximize the learning experience.”

Baker also maintained that the course will allow educators to “design activities to directly embed in their curricular area, classroom and school, while earning three graduate credits or Act 48 hours.”

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