Building Racial Justice Into a Master's Program: Lessons From a Five-Year Equity-Mindedness Initiative

Building Racial Justice Into a Master's Program: Lessons From a Five-Year Equity-Mindedness Initiative

Jenifer Crawford, Ebony C. Cain, Erica Hamilton
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8463-7.ch005
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This chapter describes a five-year equity initiative to transform a language teacher education professional master's program into one that cultivates racial justice and equity-minded practices in graduates. This chapter will review program work over the last five years on two critical efforts involved in the ongoing five-year equity-minded initiatives. The program activities include data review and planning from 2017 to 2018 and equity curricular re-design from 2018 to 2020, where faculty revised program goals, curriculum, and syllabi. Critical race theory and equity-mindedness frameworks guided this equity initiative's process, goals, and content. The authors argue that building racial justice into a professional master's program requires applying a critical race analysis to the normative assumptions about academic program redesign. Individual and institutional challenges are discussed, and recommendations for building racial justice into the curriculum, instruction, and program policies are provided.
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Institution Of Higher Education Program Context

This chapter offers an examination of the challenges and opportunities associated with redesigning a program centered around an explicit commitment to equity-mindedness. In this case, we describe a language teacher education professional master’s program engaged in a five-year process to shift its practices and culture in ways that cultivate racial justice and equity-minded practices in its graduates. In particular, what are the significant factors that must be addressed to build racial justice into a professional master’s program? We will argue that critical race, and equity-mindedness offer useful and necessary frameworks to redress normative assumptions which too often undermine efforts to advance racial justice in academic programs.

To contextualize the case explored in this chapter, we begin with a discussion of the key demographics and institutional qualities which shape the project. The role of race, class, and identity are central to this case and the organization’s work toward educational equity and language acquisition. While the majority of the student body and half of the faculty within the professional school at the center of this analysis are non-white, the university demographics differ as a Private White Institution (PWI). While the university publicly embraces diversity and inclusion, the need to confront ideologies, practices, and policies that have been historically centered around whiteness (Morales, et. al., 2021). The school’s mission is to prepare leaders to achieve educational equity. This equity-focused mission was established in 2017 and continues to inform the redesign of the academic program in the school. To understand the tension and complexity of fulfilling that mission, it is necessary to further explore the specific university demographics and how the vision for their work is articulated.

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