Diversity and Justice: Being Different in Universities and Schools

Year: 2000


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper I discuss issues of diversity and justice in higher education and schools. The paper reports on the early stages of a research project with an equity target group at universities: the deaf. The research comes out of a larger project that identified the political nature of language practices and policies in schools for a linguistic minority. Deaf students are targeted in university policy as disabled although many do not identify as such. There is confusion between national language policy that recognises their status as members of a cultural and linguistic minority and educational policy that provides support for their education through disability networks. These networks have embraced a policy of inclusion, which, in the case of the deaf, can run counter to cultural values and efforts towards self-determination.

As educators and educational researchers the politics of our practices and research epistemologies must continue to be challenged and exposed. Being different in universities and schools, the title of this paper, refers both to the diversity in student, teacher and researcher populations and the need for us to act in ways that are different from the past. Educators and researchers with a commitment to social justice and change help to make sense of the past and approach the future with optimism.