Sydney School of Education and Social Work events – 2017 Archive

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Social Justice Seminar Series


25 July 2017watch the podcast

A joint presentation by the Sydney School of Education and Social Work Social Policy, and School and Teacher Education Policy research networks

What do we mean when we talk about social justice and how should we proceed?

Terms such as, “social justice”, “diversity”, “equity” and “inclusion” are in common use in universities, but they are not always used with clarity or precision. Sometimes they describe well-developed plans and actions. Occasionally they represent little more than progressive chic. In any case it is time for some serious examination of what we mean when we talk about social justice – and of how we might attempt to act in socially just ways. This seminar is the launch event of a series of fortnightly presentations that aim to deepen our collective understanding of social justice by addressing a range of pressing problems from teaching, research and community engagement in the areas of education and social work. The presentations will be critical and questioning, and hopefully push beyond the language of feel-good vision statements in order to encourage hard thinking and serious agenda setting about the practices and politics of inequality.

Thinking social justice, doing university work

Universities are privileged places. To speak about social justice here is to wrestle with the problem of how to transform privilege for some into a resource for others. We need, therefore, a process-oriented concept; the classic but ahistorical discussions of justice, from Plato to Rawls, are of limited use. Keynote presenter Professor Raewyn Connell proposes that we think of justice as a direction of movement in the social processes that constitute history: towards equality, respect and inclusion. This conception has strong implications for university work in the fields that concern the School of Education and Social Work. Relevant research will prioritise study of the practices and structures that deliver privilege, especially their dynamics of change; and will reflexively concern justice in the making of knowledge. Relevant teaching will develop the tools needed, in the professions of teaching and social work, for socially just practice; and will reflexively address justice in higher-education curriculum, pedagogy and employment. The concept of social justice requires a crucial commitment from universities: to speak the truth. This has been corrupted by three decades of corporatisation; but the hegemony of market ideology is cracking. The question now is: "what will replace it?". Authoritarian nationalism? To find a better path, an agenda for social justice is vital.

Event details

Social Justice Seminar Series

Where LT 351, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
Education Building A35
Click image for interactive map.


25 July 2017

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