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Focus on social justice informs graduate programs, inspires collaborations

November 18, 2010

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Underpinning the teaching, research, and service of the graduate school community, a focus on social justice guides the work of faculty, staff, and students. Alumni are armed with the tools they need to immediately serve as advocates and leaders in their communities, where they continue to engage in social justice issues long after they complete their degrees at Lewis & Clark.

The Center for Community Engagement is at the core of the graduate school’s social justice work, coordinating dozens of collaborative projects between Lewis & Clark and a wide range of professional organizations and educational institutions; these partnerships seek to address critical community needs in education and mental health in the Portland metro area, state, region, and beyond.

We invite you to explore the following stories to catch of glimpse of social justice in action at the graduate school.

Reading, writing, and rising up in Oregon

The Oregon Writing Project—a collaboration between Lewis & Clark and metropolitan or rural schools and districts—offers programs designed to improve the writing of Oregon’s K-12 students and teachers.

Director Linda Christensen, author of Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word, believes that an engagement with social justice is essential to work with students. She contends that challenging students with ideas and issues relevant to their lives is key to engaging them to write, and teaching them to communicate gives them power over their lives.

In this video, Christensen explains the project’s mission and its social justice orientation.

Read more about Christensen’s work in the Lewis & Clark Chronicle and learn about how she is influencing a new generation of educators.

Engaged scholarship seeks social justice globally

Professor of Counseling Psychology Tod Sloan is at the forefront of a growing movement called “engaged scholarship.” As Sloan sees it, work done in the university setting is not just about books and ideas being transmitted from one generation to next, but the active engagement of that knowledge with the ongoing struggles of communities and social movements.

For Sloan, engaged scholarship means getting off campus and bringing new resources and different perspectives into the community, working in collaboration with projects that are helping marginalized communities sustain themselves.

The editor of the Journal for Social Action in Counseling Psychology, Sloan’s devotion to social justice infuses his work in and out of the classroom. He is involved with several off-campus efforts to link Lewis & Clark with social justice actions on a local and international scale.

In this video, Sloan discusses the various ways in which he practices engaged scholarship, including a trip to Nicaragua with the organization Green Empowerment, to assess its impact on community well being.

Read more about Sloan’s work.

Overcoming barriers to college access

The graduate school’s programs in educational leadership emphasize socially just responses to the changing nature of schools. In particular, the doctoral program has a tradition of preparing leaders to be change agents, helping experienced educators who are passionate about social justice and equity improve conditions, programs, and learning structures for K-12 students. Because students are preparing to lead schools and districts, the impact of that curriculum has the potential to ripple outward and deeply affect the culture of schools.

Angela Nusom, a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership Program, leads the Early College Access Advocacy Project for at-risk students from an alternative high school in Portland. A career counselor at the high school, Nusom started the program to help her students overcome barriers to college access. Coordinated through the Center for Community Engagement, the program is co-taught by professors from the counseling psychology and educational leadership departments.

The following slideshow explores the Early College Access Advocacy Project; read the full story about Nusom’s work.

Putting commitment into practice

Lewis & Clark alumni take their commitment to social justice into their work, effecting change in their communities. Here is a sampling of stories about alumni efforts.

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