Despite increased attention on social justice in higher education, underrepresented students often experience the classroom as unwelcoming and even hostile. Although theoretical and pedagogical research exists, what appears to be lacking are examples of concrete social justice pedagogy strategies that can be implemented in the classroom setting. This article describes the Social Justice Syllabus Design Tool (SJSDT) created to facilitate a greater emphasis on social justice in courses. Using an integrative framework and highlighting the focus areas of relationship, community, and process, the SJSDT offers a systematic approach to course re-design by which instructors can assess their classroom environment and course content.
Inclusive classrooms are classrooms in which instructors and students work together to create and sustain an environment in which everyone feels safe, supported, and encouraged to express her or his views and concerns. In these classrooms, the content is explicitly viewed from the multiple perspectives and varied experiences of a range of groups. Content is presented in a manner that reduces all students' experiences of marginalization and, wherever possible, helps students understand that individuals' experiences, values, and perspectives influence how they construct knowledge in any field or discipline. Instructors in inclusive classrooms use a variety of teaching methods in order to facilitate the academic achievement of all students. Inclusive classrooms are places in which thoughtfulness, mutual respect, and academic excellence are valued and promoted.
When designing a course, each move matters. From your selection of course materials, to your teaching methods, to the ways you ask students to demonstrate their learning, your course may privilege some students while disadvantaging others. There are moves you can make during the course design phase, though, that can help you create a more equitable and inclusive learning experience.
From an instructional designer's vantage point: o create a list of
considerations to help faculty and instructional designers
create courses and learning environments where students feelwelcome and connected.