Mary Shelley Thomas: 0000-0001-8796-1303

Christine D. Clayton: 0000-0001-5085-3528




This study explores faculty perspectives of social justice in teacher education within one New York institution with a social justice focus. Grounded in the institution’s self-study process for accreditation, the researchers were a part of a team that collected data from structured interviews, including a card sort, of 42 full time teacher educators across 16 programs in the institution. Informed by sociocultural theories (Vygotsky, 1978, Wertsch, 1991), a content analysis revealed the language selected by faculty as well as their meaning-making process and describes how individuals contextualized those meanings. Findings demonstrated a range of meanings and lack of a shared understanding about social justice. Even where apparent consensus existed around particular terminology, the content analysis revealed that individual meanings were deeply contextualized within disciplines and, thereby, were quite distinct. We raise questions regarding how to use dialogue as a meaning making process, the possibilities for a range of meanings, and the significance of contextualizing social justice. The study suggests that significant tensions remain but that “being in tension” is a critical position and potentially informative to faculty who might consider using a framework that invites more diverse perspective rather than embrace a unitary meaning of the term.



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