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Social Justice 101: Teaching Empathy and Critical Thinking Using Books With Powerful Messages on Social Justice 

AdobeStock_152680850-girl-reading-cropped.jpegThis month’s Educator|Resource presents a comprehensive course guide on teaching empathy and critical thinking using books with powerful messages on social justice. The course guide follows an interdisciplinary approach. Students pick from a list of contemporary books curated by the instructor on confronting social barriers—such as socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, and disability—perpetuated through homelessness, mass incarceration, harsh immigration policies and other unjust treatment. Essential to this teaching strategy is using a combination of genres: memoirs by those who navigate social barriers, fiction to deepen our understanding of the human experience, and social analyses by activists who share their visions for social change. Each unique story carries a common message of social justice. Tailor the course and book list to fit your own teaching objectives.
 

Resources included in the course guide: 

*For a PowerPoint version, please contact Dr. Yolanda Padilla at ypadilla@cswe.org

About the Educator: Dr. Yolanda C. Padilla

Dr. Yolanda C. Padilla iYPadilla-Prof-photo-(1).jpgs the director of the CSWE Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice and the Clara Pope Willoughby Centennial Professor in Child Welfare at the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work. After completing her MSSW, Dr. Padilla pursued her doctoral studies in social work and sociology at the University of Michigan, where she focused on social inequality and poverty. Her teaching and research interests focus on the effects of social disparities on children and families, research-based multicultural practice, and social work practice with communities.

 

Educator Q&A 

How do you engage your students in learning about diversity and justice?
My approach to engaging students in diversity and justice can be summed up in words inspired by the writings of French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." My goal, then, is to spark a longing for a just society. Kindling this longing sets the stage for learning about social work practice, social action, policy reform, and so on.  Read the Full Q&A
 

Interested in contributing to the Educator|Resource of the Month? Please e-mail a short proposal to
Dr. Yolanda Padilla, CSWE Diversity Center Director, at ypadilla@cswe.org
.