Social Justice Scholars and Educators Faculty Learning Community

Are you interested in joining a small community of colleagues for ongoing conversations about the challenges and triumphs associated with teaching courses about issues related to social justice? Would you enjoy the opportunity to bolster your teaching about social justice issues by sharing strategies with colleagues who also teach issues about racism, sexism, poverty, heterosexism, and environmental degradation? Would you find it helpful to connect with a network of colleagues from across the university who share your concerns about how to facilitate learning effectively around the most controversial issues?

The Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence invites interested faculty to participate in a Social Justice Scholars and Educators learning community during the 2013-2014 academic year.

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What is a Social Justice Scholars and Educators learning community and why should I participate?

As you may or may not know, President Cabrera brings to campus a strong interest in global rights issues. He has pretty good timing, too, because in just the last few years, several new academic programs have been introduced on campus with global rights at their center. One example is the new Social Justice concentration and minor in New Century College. Others include the Environmental and Sustainability Studies major, which includes a strong equity and justice component, and the CHSS Global Affairs program. Add to these conditions the robust diversity of Mason, and it would be easy to presume that Masonis an especially supportive place for these sorts of initiatives. On the other hand, we know, and research shows, that faculty teaching courses on politically-charged topics like racial or environmental justice face particular types of challenges. For example, if they are not in programs or departments with other people who have similar scholarly or teaching interests, faculty whose work centers on social justice concerns can feel disconnected or even marginalized on campus. We are initiating the Social Justice Scholars and Educators faculty learning community in order to provide a space of mutual support and collaboration where faculty can talk through these sorts of challenges, foster collaborations, support each other’s work, and stay energized.

In addition to providing space for broader conversations about our trip-ups and triumphs, we will ask you, should you participate, to identify one specific pedagogical challenge you face in your courses related to social justice issues. You might choose a concept you especially struggle to teach effectively or a challenge you face attempting to engage certain types of students or something else specific to your teaching. You will commit to finding ways to working on that struggle or challenge throughout the course of the learning community, receiving support from other community members as you go. We will devote considerable portions of our meeting time to reflecting on our progress and sharing strategies and resources.



What am I agreeing to, time- and deliverable-wise, if I agree to participate?

Each participant will be asked to commit to:

  • participate in meetings (five per semester—roughly every three weeks) with the learning community members
  • choose a specific challenge or struggle on which to focus over the course of an academic year in order to improve your effectiveness teaching about social justice issues
  • provide updates at each meeting regarding your progress
  • participate in informal and occasional Wiki-based conversations about relevant topics
  • share relevant resources you come across on the learning community Wiki
  • write or present a paper on some aspect of your experience in the learning community, your process for strengthening your teaching related to social justice issues, or some related topic, in a forum that will make it accessible to people in your scholarly discipline


What, other than a wonderful network of colleagues and a supportive space in which to become a better educator, is in it for me?

Each participant will have access to a $1,000 stipend to reimburse expenses associated with attending a conference in order to present a paper or workshop associated with some aspect of their participation in the learning community.


How do I apply to participate?

If interested, please submit a brief statement of interest (no more than 250 words) that addresses why you would like to participate and what challenge or struggle you might focus on during the learning community experience (you would be free to change this focus later if you choose to do so).

Send all materials electronically to the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence at ctfe@gmu.edu by Friday, March 8, at noon.

Space is limited, and we shall select no more than 12 faculty members to participate. Selected participants will be notified by the end of March.

If you have questions, please contact Kim Eby or Paul Gorski.


This program is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching & Faculty Excellence, New Century College’s Social Justice Concentration, Women and Gender Studies, the Counseling and Development Program, and the Diversity Research and Action Center.