This article explores the use of critical pedagogy in addressing the important issue of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) in the postsecondary context. I argue that tools of critical pedagogy – in this case student-centred learning and sharing power in the classroom – provide a productive avenue for post-secondary students to engage with SRI. In addition, analysing current debates and trends in SRI offers an excellent opportunity to encourage active, engaged, student-centred learning, with the ultimate goal of producing citizens who are capable of questioning the world around them. The article presents a case study of a course on SRI at a small liberal arts university in Canada to illustrate the potential of critically teaching and learning about SRI.
Joanna L. Mosser
Scholars identify the classical and neoliberal commitment to consumption, production, and self-directing individualism as a cultural barrier to ecological thinking and action. The state's complicity in the production of market-based norms and practices hostile to ecological thinking is widely acknowledged. Some solutions, in turn, advocate the liberating force of critical pedagogies that cultivate alternative conceptions of the individual, place, production, consumption, and environment. Missing in this literature is a consideration of the implications of state-based instructional methods for the pursuit of such critical, liberating pedagogies. This article revisits the sovereign territorial state as a modern form of political authority and explores the implications of the state's project of self-authoring standardization and consolidation for the development of ecological thinking and action. The epistemology and ontology of the modern state is rooted in a praxis of subject-hood that dismisses, and constructs as dangerous, the anarchic, self-authoring tendencies of the everyday. Recovering the everyday as a site of authorship, agency, and choice is a first step to creating individuals who take seriously the demands of ecological thinking and action.
Neoliberal values and ideology, which have broadly undermined social justice ideals, have been inserted into a range of public spheres both in the U.S.A. and internationally. Public higher education institutions have increasingly acquiesced to neoliberal strategies, which restrict access to public services, commodify the public sphere and challenge the legitimacy of progressive and liberal politics. This article explores some neoliberal practices at one public institution of higher education in the United States. I present three incidents that took place between 2000 and 2006 at a college that is part of a public State University system: a shift to disparagement of 'activism' in a college that had prided itself on its activist traditions; a confusion over the profitable marketability of Global Black Studies, in a context where political pressures diminished 'minority' perspectives in the interest of reasserting homogeneous 'Western civilisation'; and a partnership between this public college and a prestigious private university. In each case I explore my own response in terms of faculty governance, and how I developed new courses and pedagogies to open up these aspects of the operation of neoliberalism to critical examination by students. These incidents show how neoliberal practices create fear and feelings of vulnerability among faculty, especially faculty members of colour; they also show the importance of developing critical pedagogies to expose their assaults on social justice and equity.
Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur
As we lean into the gusty winds of the approaching millennium, squaring our shoulders and lowering our heads against an icy unknown, we discover much to our surprise that the future has already arrived; that it has silently imploded into the singularity of the present. We are lost in a crevice in the ‘wrong side’ of history, in a furious calm at the end of a century-old breath, doing solitary confinement in the future anterior. Time has inhaled so hard that it has lodged us in its lungs, compressing us into shadowy, ovaloid spectres out of the horror classic, Nosferatu. Capitalism has authored this moment, synchronising the heartbeat of the globe with the auto-copulatory rhythms of the marketplace; deregulating history; downsizing eternity.
In this article I propose a different way of reading children's novels by identifying types of stories that implicate social structures in their representation of inequality. My analysis focuses on children's novels in order to develop two distinct categories of stories, differentiating between narratives that reinforce the status quo and narratives that challenge it. I illustrate my contention that a subversive story makes visible connections between social power and inequality. To that end, I examine two case studies—Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie and Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn—to demonstrate how these analytical categories bring to light key differences between two texts which have been subjected to other kinds of comparative analysis, appear to share so much, and are regularly discussed as being good books for girls.
This summary article situates the articles in this collection within the historical unfolding of the commodification and neoliberalisation of higher education. From the 1970s to the present, the article suggests that commodification and neoliberalisation are two social forces that in many nations are difficult to disentangle. It is important to see these forces as analytically distinct as they set up contradictions whilst transforming higher education in many nations in the world. While commodification begins the process of turning university programmes and degrees into commodities that a consuming public buys, neoliberalism puts pressure on universities to document that people are getting value for the money they spend. Neoliberalism also questions how we measure the quality of a product. Together these forces create an increasingly contradictory space where faculty work becomes very conflicted. The article then goes on to situate each of the articles in this contradictory university space. Finally the article discusses some ways faculty can move beyond resistance and collusion and find ways to reclaim higher education.
This interdisciplinary paper is about applying Adult Education methods of learning and teaching to higher education. I argue that higher education students need to be stimulated via interactive methods that improve their motivation and lead them to question the value system/s that exist around them. A Freirean approach as used in the teaching of Adult Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) was applied to a group of 'elite' students at the University of Birmingham who were taking a language foundation course. As a sociolinguist and ESOL practitioner from a black perspective, I argue that the understanding of concepts of language and racism, imperialism and social class can best be facilitated using such an approach. Taking groups of students through this learning journey is challenging for higher education practitioners and the results add a relatively new dimension to the collective reflection on learning and teaching in higher education today.
Space, Perspective, and Critical Research Skills
This article investigates the potential of one of the most contested and debated spaces of German Studies research, the Postdamer Platz in Berlin, as an interactive "textbook." By employing the notion of "play" the areas around the commercialized Postdamer Platz can be "read" and explored as contradictory, chaotic, messy, and haunted by ghosts of the past, despite—or possibly amplified by—the newly constructed, glossy surfaces of global media and capitalism that form a center for the German capital. I consider the subversive possibilities as well as the limits of this playful approach to teaching, exploring, and learning about commercialized urban centers in the twenty-first century.
Neda Maghbouleh, Clayton Childress and Carlos Alamo-Pastrana
Marx's critique of capitalism remains foundational to the university social science curriculum yet little is known about how instructors teach Marx. In post-industrial, service-oriented economies, students are also increasingly disconnected from the conditions of industrial capitalism that animate Marx's analysis. Inspired by the discussion of how a piece of wood becomes a table in Marx's Capital Vol. 1., 'Our Table Factory, Inc.' simulates a diverse array of roles in the chain of production into and out of a table factory to understand key concepts: means/mode of production, use/exchange value, primitive accumulation wage/surplus labour, proletariat, bourgeoisie, alienation, false consciousness, commodity fetishism and communist revolution. We describe the exercise and present qualitative and quantitative assessment data from introductory sociology undergraduates across three small teaching-intensive universities in the United States. Findings detail the exercise's efficacy in fostering retention of material and in facilitating critical engagement with issues of inequality.
Judith Burnett and Erika Cudworth
This article explores the critical pedagogical issues that emerge when attempting to develop active citizenship among undergraduates as an integral part of the student experience. It presents part of the findings from a C-SAP-funded project (Gifford et al. 2006) that we undertook with a partner higher education institution. This article explores our particular contribution carried out in a post-1992 London higher education institution. Our innovations in the social sciences undergraduate curriculum aimed at creating situations in which students would explore the diversity of citizenship in educational settings, namely, a local school, a further education college, and Summerhill School (founded by A.S. Neill). The research leads us to conclude that citizenship is a problem of praxis influenced and shaped by the local-global contexts of communities with diverse heritages of meaning, stratified social settings, and specific local and historical characteristics. This challenges the notions underpinning the Crick curriculum with its national orientation, and demonstrates the need to sensitise citizenship learning experiences to the needs of students and staff embedded in their social contexts. Such an approach can be understood as a form of situated citizenship characterised by active engagement with an assumption of heterogeneity which is positively sensitive to diversity.