6th Annual Conference for Social Justice in Education
2014 Theme: Cultivating Mentorship in Schools & Society
The School of Education at Channel Islands (CI) invites you to submit a proposal to present at the 6th Annual Conference for Social Justice in Education. The daylong conference will be held on Saturday, April 19, 2014 (8:00 am to 3:00 pm) on the campus of CI. The purpose of the annual event is to showcase the social justice oriented work being done in and around schools and educational institutions in Ventura County, to network with others who believe in the power and necessity of such work, and to learn from one another about how best to teach and learn in ways that promote equity, peace, and integrity in public education.
What does this year’s theme, “Cultivating Mentorship in Schools & Society" mean?
The theme builds on the powerful scholarship of previous conferences and highlights the essential process of networking, of building a common agenda, and of creating opportunities for collaborative impact to achieve social justice by and through education. The focus on mentoring is designed to broaden our perspectives on what education is, where it occurs – and how it can serve the goal of social justice. Mentorship, at its core, is a form of “holistic” education – the sharing of skills, lessons, insights, from one person to another. It can occur in limitless contexts: personal, professional, social.
The inspiration for the theme emerged organically from conversations on campus, in schools, and with community partners – all pointing to the crucial role of mentorship in helping us to become our best selves – individually and collectively. Examples include: mentoring first-generation college students to achieve and graduate; mentoring foster youth to navigate the challenges of ‘aging out’ of the foster system; mentoring future school administrators to become more effective leaders; mentoring homeless community members to learn the skills necessary to find and maintain secure housing. In each of those instances mentoring can help to provide both the skills and support that are essential to achieve important goals – extending education beyond familiar institutional boundaries and helping to bring about social justice.
While the potential of mentorship is boundless, its potential is largely untapped. Many people with great capacity for mentorship don’t see themselves as mentors, having in mind a view of mentors as exceptional and heroic figures and of mentoring relationships as the product of serendipity. Our vision is that mentoring relationships are more commonly and consistently available, to mentors and mentees alike. Toward this end, the 2014 Social Justice in Education Conference aims to help demystify mentoring, initiate community-wide conversations about mentoring, and cultivate access and mentorship opportunities for more people in the region. What are best practices for mentoring – at both the interpersonal level, and at the broader programmatic level? How (and where) can we cultivate forms of mentorship that will be particularly effective in bringing about social justice? How can we develop mentoring programs that promise to make mentoring both more common and more effective? The conference is designed to be a venue for critical thinking and sharing insights into what works – and to inspire all of us to try to move that work forward.
What does it mean to promote “social justice”?
People who work for social justice recognize that not everyone has equal access to excellent educational resources, facilities, and experiences. People devoted to promoting social justice seek to interrupt schools’ tendency to reproduce social inequity. The goal of this work is to make our communities better for all—specifically those who may be minoritized based on special needs, ethnicity, language, gender, socioeconomic status, and/or sexual identity (among others).
What is a "social justice framework"?
According to Marilyn Cochran-Smith, a leading scholar in education, a social justice framework is one that "actively address[es] the dynamics of oppression, privilege, and isms, [and recognizes] that society is the product of historically rooted, institutionally sanctioned stratification along socially constructed group lines that include race, class, gender, secual orientation, and ability [among others]. Working for social justice in education means guiding students [and often being guided by students] in critical self-reflection of their socialization into this matrix of uneuql relationships and its implications, analysis of the mechanisms of oppression, and the ability to challenge these hierarchies."
Basically, a social justice framework is a way of seeing and acting aimed at resisting unfairness and inequity while enhancing freedom and possibility for all. It pays primary attention to how people, policies, practices, curricula, and institutions may be used to liberate rather than oppress those least served by our decision making.
Some examples (there are many more, some of which are contested) of principles guiding social justice work in education including the belief that:
- Schools often reproduce rather than remedy the patterns of social exclusion and oppression seen in the larger society.
- There are very real differentials in access to social and institutional power between relationally positione group members, and those differentials exist in educaiton settings.
- While all people have socialized prejudices and can discriminate, only the dominant group is backed by social and institutional power, which is multidimensional and constantly operating, being contested, and renegotiated, especially within schools.
- Those who claim to be for social justice must also be engages in self-reflection on their own socialization into patterns of oppression and continually seek to counter those patterns. This is a lifelong project and is not achieved at the completion of an article, workshop, or conference.
The above text was excerpted and adapted from Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R (2009). Developing social justice literacy: An open letter to our faculty colleagues. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(5), p. 350.
Can I just attend the conference even if I don’t present?
Please do, and bring friends! Attendance is free and open to the public. Registration is available online. Walk-ins can register at the event on April 19 at 8:30, but we encourage online registration so we can plan efficiently for lunch (which will be provided free of charge by conference sponsors).
Who is invited to submit a proposal?
Students of all ages, teachers, parents, grandparents, administrators, professors, counselors, social workers, school psychologists, coaches, community-based educators, activists/organizers, artists, community leaders—basically, anyone who cares about teaching and learning in and out of school and whose work is devoted to promoting some aspect of social justice.
Interested in presenting at this year’s conference?
- Download the presentation proposal form at http://education.csuci.edu/justice-conference/proposal-info.htm.
- Proposals to present are due Monday, February 24, 2014.
- The decision about whether your proposal is accepted or not will be communicated to you by Friday, March 7, 2014.
What needs to be submitted?
A one-page proposal. That's it!
Guiding Questions for Proposal Development
Proposals will be evaluated by how clearly and thoroughly some or all of the following questions are addressed:
- What are the essential skills and practices associated with successful mentoring – and how can we cultivate them?
- What are best practices in mentorship – at both the individual/interpersonal level, and at the programmatic level?
- What are the promises and pitfalls of attempts to “institutionalize” mentoring relationships within formal programs?
- How does mentorship help to break down the walls that too often restrict “education” to formal institutions in our society?
- What are the important benefits that mentors can receive in the process (rather than benefits solely flowing to the mentee)?
- How can the power of mentorship be harnessed to promote social justice? What are important contexts for cultivating mentorship in ways that are most promising for promoting social justice (as opposed to simply professional development, etc.)?
How do I submit?
Option 1: Go to http://education.csuci.edu/justice-conference/proposal-info.htm, download and complete the form, and email your completed form using the link on the website.
Option 2: Go to http://education.csuci.edu/justice-conference/proposal-info.htm, download the form, print it, fill it out, and mail it to Social Justice in Education Conference, c/o Wendy Olson, One University Drive, Camarillo, CA 93012.
Option 3: Call Wendy Olson at (805) 437-8553 to request a form to be mailed to you, which you can return by mail using the contact information provided in Option 2.
When is the proposal deadline?
Proposals need to be received by midnight on Monday, February 24th, 2014.
What types of presentations are encouraged?
All kinds of presentations are welcome. The important thing is to make sure your proposed presentation is clearly designed to promote social justice in/through education and is clearly connected to the conference theme. Possible kinds of presentations:
- Sharing your activism/social justice stories: describing how you worked individually or organized with others to raise awareness, resist injustice, or promote equity in education, and how that work is related to the conference theme
- Panel discussion: bringing together various speakers to discuss a specific topic related to the conference theme
- Research: sharing what you learned when you investigated a topic related to the conference theme and gathered data about it
- Performance: spoken word, paintings, graphics, dance, plays, music — anything you want to perform for others that relates to the conference theme
- Poster Session: space will be made available in the Grand Salon for posters showcasing your research, curriculum or community action plan
May I/we give a proposal in a language other than English?
We enthusiastically encourage multilingual presentations and presenters.
What do I do if I have a great idea but want help writing my proposal?
Call, e-mail, or mail us your questions any time and we’ll be glad to help. You’ll find our names and contact information below.
- Tiina Itkonen, Associate Professor of Education
California State University Channel Islands
- Kaia Tollefson, Associate Professor of Education
California State University Channel Islands
How will the proposals be evaluated?
We will look for presentations that integrate the following:
- Response to this year’s “Guiding Questions for Proposal Development” (see above page 2) that focus on aspects of mentorship;
- Relevance to education, value to Ventura County communities/students/families/educators, and connection to the conference theme on mentorship;
- Special consideration will be given to proposals submitted by teams that include faculty, students and/or community members from any level of education (P-12, undergraduate, credential, Masters).
How and when will I find out if my proposal is accepted?
We will reply to you by March 7th, using contact information you supply on your proposal form.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
Contact Wendy Olson at email@example.com or (805)437-8553.