Social justice in a tertiary education context: do we practice what we preach?

Gair, Susan, and Baglow, Lenn (2018) Social justice in a tertiary education context: do we practice what we preach? Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 13 (3). pp. 207-216.

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Concepts of social justice have strong historical roots, while more contemporary notions of social justice coincide with human rights, equity, fairness and facilitation of social change with lasting impact. In higher education, evident examples of social justice include widened university access facilitating a diverse student body and graduate workforce who can, in turn, contribute to a more just society. University student identity in past eras has been synonymous with social activism. Equally, social work has a mandate to uphold social justice. Yet tertiary students’ own growing material hardships appear to constitute an unacknowledged injustice. While it is understood that tertiary study may mean short-lived poverty, more recent literature suggests that many university students are suffering mounting debt, increased mental health stress and vulnerability to withdrawal. In this article, the authors ponder social justice education by calling on specific results of a 2015 survey of 2320 Australian social work students. Findings revealed that for many students a juggling act of core study requirements, paid work, family commitments and affording necessities impacted their health, wellbeing and study success. Some astute students identified a disconnect between social work’s staunch social justice agenda and its lack of acknowledgement, empathy or action regarding student hardship. The findings have implications for curricula, universities, accrediting bodies and educators who want to facilitate social justice education.

Item ID: 55683
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1746-1987
Keywords: activism, social justice, social work, student poverty, tertiary study
Copyright Information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2018.
Additional Information:

Education, Citizenship and Social Justice is a peer-reviewed journal that provides a strategic forum for international and multi-disciplinary dialogue for all academic educators and educational policy-makers concerned with the meanings and form of citizenship and social justice as these are realized throughout the time spent in educational institutions.

Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 05:00
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4409 Social work > 440999 Social work not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement @ 40%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services) @ 60%
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