“Teaching and Learning for Justice: Danger and Opportunity in Our Critical Moment”
Oct. 28–30, 2010
(Proposal submission closed)
University of Puget Sound will host its second Race and Pedagogy National Conference Oct. 28–30, 2010, under the theme “Teaching and Learning for Justice: Danger and Opportunity in Our Critical Moment.” This conference is conceptualized and planned through the Race and Pedagogy Initiative, a collaboration of the university and the South Sound community, particularly the Initiative’s Community Partners Forum. The Initiative understands race in real, social, and embodied terms. Critiquing and resisting the conception of race as a natural and biological reality or as obsolete, the Initiative understands race as a social construct that produces and pervades our social relations of difference, disparity, and discrimination—historically and in our contemporary lives—working most perniciously against people of color. Without an understanding of race, social analysis is vacuous. The Initiative thus seeks to educate students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race, its potential for interpreting who we are and the social conditions of our lives; and to act to eliminate racism. This 2010 conference serves as a follow-up to the inaugural conference of 2006, which, over three days, brought together 2,000 participants from 39 states, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom, representing more than 100 institutions, including liberal arts colleges, K-12 schools, community colleges, regional state institutions, research universities, and a range of civic and government organizations, to engage issues of race and its impact on education.
The conference theme is informed by the notion that history is marked with moments in which action and inaction have determined whether human and civil rights and justice were advanced or thwarted. The 1960s stand as a stark, symbolic, recent example. Our continued work in the Race and Pedagogy Initiative, along with educational and other social events on the national, regional, and local scenes, tell us that we are in the midst of a new watershed moment in terms of race and racism. We invite proposals for papers, panels, and other presentation formats, including, but not limited to, round tables, posters and performances, and visual art and interactive sessions from a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, and diverse range of participants, including scholars, teachers, students, and administrators in higher education and K-12 education, along with those involved in educational practices in a variety of civic, artistic, and community-based organizations. All proposals shall be refereed and shall probe the overarching Conference theme along the lines of one or a combination of the following subthemes:
THEME 1: Understanding the Critical Moments of Possibilities and Pitfalls in Education, the Arts and Society
In these beginning years of the 21st century we are experiencing crucial shifts, which though connected are also distinct from the momentum of the 1960s that significantly re-shaped schooling and society. The 1960s marked a moment when diverse and differential community struggles to challenge and change centuries-long oppressive, dehumanizing, and discriminatory social structures, systems, relations, and artistic images based on race reached a notable threshold with the civil rights movement being most frequently memorialized as a signal marker of this time. Pressured by the historical urgency, unrelenting courage, sacrificial example, and specific demands of social movement actors, some key breakthroughs in the life of educational institutions were formed. The late 1960s brought Supreme Court legislation that took another step toward dismantling de facto segregation in public education by liberating the “all deliberate speed” standard that had deferred the promises of educational and social equality signaled by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decisions of 1954 and 1955. Also triggered by the community activism of this period was the development of curricular initiatives that exposed, questioned, and responded to the white supremacist logic regarding what was valued as legitimate knowledge, the validity of racialized and other representations in textbooks, and who was eligible to learn, to teach, and to have access to educational institutions. Such initiatives have either directly resulted in or helped to shape the differential conditions for the establishment in higher education of new, critical interdisciplinary forms of knowledge, including African American studies; Asian American studies; Chicano studies; Latino studies; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies; and Native American and Indigenous studies. Importantly, these initiatives and their outgrowths have also forced a rethinking of the content and canonical status of traditional disciplines.
In this fifth decade since the social and educational legacies of the 1960s, many are voicing the notion that shifts in terms of matters related to race seem to be multiedged and replete with possibilities and pitfalls. For some, the national and international significance of the 2008 election of Barack Obama as U.S. president has suggested that we have arrived at a post-racial state of affairs. Others warn that this time—our time—may also be a time of retrenchment that is reminiscent of previous crucial historical moments, such as Reconstruction and social policies and practices that have stalled and served as a backlash against civil rights victories. Our time could also be one in which we are witnessing the emergence of more insidious and invisible forms of racism. We also seem to be witnessing more intricacy in the ways in which race operates at national and global intersections of other dynamics of difference, disparity, and diversity, for example, social class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, and ability. What is perhaps most clear is that we are living through a fragile and agile critical moment. We are at another turning point that we need to name, interrogate and understand. We need to discern its opportunities and dangers so as to forge responses to the educational and social injustices of this time that are deepening the experiences of oppression for people of color, underrepresented minorities, and people of low income.
We invite proposals for presentations that explore this theme:
THEME 2: Innovations in Partnerships for Educational Justice
Calls and initiatives that seek educational “reform” have been a continuing feature of educational life. In the midst of such efforts we continue to witness evidence of business-as-usual in educational affairs and even signs of a turning-back-of-the-clock in terms of what have been viewed as educational advances. We hear outcries that tell us that growing numbers are sick and tired of repackaged reforms, bureaucratic barriers, and traditional paradigms of schooling that do not work and systemically leave children behind despite policy pronouncements to the contrary. Such outcries arise in the face of varied situations of injustice. Examples of these situations include: the comparative growth of the prison industry in relation to underdevelopment in the public educational system; evidence of re-segregation in public education; the persistence of a preparation gap that disproportionately impacts the academic achievement of children from low-income families and families of color; uneven access for and retention of first generation and underrepresented minority students in higher education; and the struggle for critically rigorous and inclusive curricular approaches and models.
In our work in the Race and Pedagogy Initiative, particularly through conscious and deliberate development of and collaboration with our Community Partners Forum, the project of imagining and building different institutional partnerships has become pivotal to rethinking how we might achieve invigorating educational experiences, generate excellent and just educational outcomes for students at all levels, and better prepare students to be critically engaged, aware, accountable, and able to function as community, national, and global citizens. The Race and Pedagogy Initiative has built, learned from, worked to sustain, and reinvented critical partnerships across students, staff, and faculty in higher education; teachers, administrators, students, families, and school district personnel in K-12 education; and differential community-based and civic constituencies to develop summits in 2006 and 2008 on the achievement gap. Such partnerships also directly contributed to shaping state legislation on eliminating the achievement gap. Further, the grounding of these ranging partnerships allowed us to extend and create others so as to develop a 2009 conference with parents and guardians in K-12 education aimed to empower, support, and connect them in their roles as the first teachers of their children and as partners with public schools to ensure the quality education that their children deserve.
We invite proposals for presentations that explore this theme through:
THEME 3: Dilemmas and New Directions in Pedagogy About Race
The focus on how instruction about race occurs has been a hallmark of critical educational practices. Such a focus is often expressed through attention to critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy emphasizes and extends particular dimensions of effective teaching-learning processes. In pursuing critical pedagogy about race, emphasis is placed on learning and teaching as a multidirectional process in contrast to a one-way transaction between teachers and learners. Teachers and learners in the encounter are encouraged to be aware of their contexts, their social identifications in the world, and of their shared accountability in making and using knowledge. Such an approach includes the promotion of a reflexivity that questions self and others, as well as notions that education is and ought to be apolitical, ahistorical, and value neutral, in the interest of fostering a radical and rigorous democratic educational enterprise.
The array of new challenges in education today includes a rise in the number of students of color taught by overwhelming numbers of white teachers; failures in recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in higher education; a rise in the presence of students who claim their multiracial heritage; a rise in the range of intersectional identities experienced and claimed by students; and new arguments about who qualifies for college education versus technical instruction. These challenges and the context within which they occur require critical pedagogical practices with particular attention to race.
We invite proposals for presentations that explore this theme by:
We hope that because of your investment in issues of race and pedagogy you will recognize areas of interest and/or concern in these themes, and you will consider joining us as either presenters and/or participants. The closing date for submissions is March 8, 2010. All submissions should include your name(s), title of proposed presentation, indicate which Conference subtheme or themes are being addressed and explain how the presentation engages the subtheme(s). The call for student submissions for poster sessions will follow shortly. For specific submission guidelines, please visit the Conference Web site at www.pugetsound.edu/raceandpedagogy. We so look forward to having you with us as we seize our critical moment to engage in dialogue, questioning, discerning, (re)defining and action at the Race and Pedagogy National Conference, Oct. 28–30, 2010, at University of Puget Sound.