School hosts “social justice summer camp”


Northern Illinois University is currently hosting a three-day “social justice summer camp” for educators that is scheduled to run through June 14.

According to the event description, the camp is intended to “bring together teams of educators to investigate multicultural and social justice education. Campers will have significant opportunities to discuss social justice issues, both general and specific to their schools, with experts and colleagues, as well as time for individual reflection.”

The camp will also feature a “candid and nonjudgmental exploration of multiculturalism, privilege, identity, oppression and more.”

Attendees will examine “the historic development of multicultural and social justice education and key ideas; the nature of privilege across identities and how privilege impacts policy and practice in schools, and the ways in which school policies foster inequity and how to reform such policies.”

Camp directors include Dr. Joseph Flynn, Dr. James Cohen, Dr. Samina Hadi-Tabassum, and Dr. Michael Manderino.

“Schools are a microcosm of society,” Manderino said. “Whether it’s racism, sexism, discrimination against one’s gender identity, sexual preference or religious background—these are systemic issues. Schools, and the school system itself, really have to confront the fact that these issues are present.”

“In an age of emboldened racism … we have to be equally emboldened to fight back all of this racism, discrimination and injustice,” Cohen added. “What better way to spread that message of social justice than to work with teachers?”

Cohen wants teachers to gain a better understanding of white privilege.

“When teachers understand how white privilege plays a role in their teaching, how misogyny plays a role in their teaching, how linguistic privilege plays a role in their teaching – if they can gain that awareness, they will be teaching students multiple historical perspectives,” Cohen said.

Other universities throughout the country will be hosting similar events this year including Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Pennsylvania. Both will host month-long summer programs for high school students that will address topics such as Black Lives Matter and “gayborhoods.”

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