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2018 NWSA Annual Conference: JUST IMAGINE. IMAGINING JUSTICE: Feminist visions of freedom, dream making and the radical politics of futures

Workshop: Teaching Social Justice, Fighting White (/Cis) (/Male) Supremacy

Panelists: Amanda Kennedy, Sarah Augusto, Liz Coston, Bethany M. (bee) Coston

As feminist professors in times of extraordinary injustice, it is our responsibility to prepare students to engage in real world activism and empower them to see themselves as producers of knowledge. Following Freire’s critical pedagogy and hooks’ transgressive teaching, this workshop will explore the feminist, antiracist pedagogical strategies that we use to decolonize our classrooms and transform our students into scholars and activists. In addition to presenting our own tactics, we will open the space for attendees to think about and discuss how to incorporate similar strategies across disciplines, campuses, and communities.

The mainstreaming of white nationalism under the current regime, coupled with the resurgence of social justice movements around the nation, creates a moment that, as feminist professors, cannot ignore. We must teach student how to engage with the social justice movements around them, and provide them new and creative ways of combatting inequality. Turning that goal into practical pedagogy isn’t always easy though, and depends on the (campus, departmental, regional) contexts in which we are located.

One panelist will discuss how she incorporates “hashtag syllabi” in her senior WGS capstone, and asks students to create their own intersectional syllabi; she will also discuss the art and zine projects she uses in her Intro to WGS course. Another describes creating student activist projects to combat ongoing campus bias incidents. A third discusses how linking foundational feminist theories to radical utopian fiction/non-fiction not only informs the development of students’ critical thinking skills, but also cultivates their desire for a sustained revolutionary praxis. Our final panelist will discuss how their project-based social justice course served as a medium for students to respond to issues of racial justice not only on campus, but also in their local Southern community in the wake of Charlottesville.

After briefly discussing our own strategies, we will provide opportunity for small group discussion of attendees’ classes and institutions. Specifically, we will ask them to consider ways that they might challenge traditional classroom power dynamics, engage with artistic and creative pedagogy, and transform their classes into spaces for social justice.