Confronting global and local social justice issues: A challenge for educators

Year: 1999

Author: Loller, Marie, Butcher, Jude

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Changes to societal and political structures have been recommended to prevent the development of a 20:80 society (Martin & Schumann, 1996) which marginalises an increasing number of people. Underlying many of these changes is the education of people so that they are both committed to and capable of participating at a local level in decision making which has an influence on social structures. How can educators assist in promoting an agenda that challenges social structures and values the common good? While being conscious of the potential benefits of globalisation it is important that people are educated to be more aware of and advocates for those who are alienated and excluded from dominant structures.

Australian Catholic University is committed to addressing the challenge of educating people so that they can constructively address the inherent tendency in global structures to overlook their effects on groups who are marginalised. This paper presents a rationale and framework for educating people to operate with a social justice agenda within a global environment. It also presents a case study of a unit which promotes this agenda at university level. The learning processes underlying the unit incorporate a cycle of information, experience, analysis, reflection, and social action. The effects of this unit on students’ attitudes, capacity to address social issues and commitment to social action are reported. The implications for educators and for the type of learning culture are explored.