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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Strengthening the SEAMS Between Us: Sustainable, Equitable, Actualized Meaning-making & Solidarity
by DeZeeuw Spencer, Jordana, Ph.D., Prescott College, 2011, 412; 3453890
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation addresses social justice aspects of sustainability education, seeking to problematize the seeming resistance many of us have to partnering across “difference” (be it cultural, ideological, structural, etc.). The question posed was: What internalized characteristics and externalized communicative capacities help diverse groups to partner in working toward ecosociocultural justice, healing, & connectivity? The study’s theoretical framework drew on five cultures of inquiry (An Ethic of Care; Feminist Theory & Pedagogy; Critical Social Theory & Pedagogy; Communication Theory & Dialogism; Intersectionality Theory). The research was structured into two phases. The first phase comprised interviewing 14 diverse community groups and 25 practitioners, whose responses concerning experiences of alliance or alienation across difference were then coded using grounded theory. The five emergent meta-themes (the Social Nature of Humanity; Know Thyself & Thy Influences; Interrogating, Deconstructing, & Transforming Systemic Paradigms; Building Rapport & Working Together; Diversity of Lived Experience), in conjunction with the theoretical scaffolding, provided the content of a new curriculum, which was constructed and facilitated for the second phase of research with 14 undergraduate students in a month-long, intensive course. Action research and heuristics were the principal methodological lenses used in Phase Two. The quantitative instrument, the Defining Issues Test-2, was also utilized in a pre-/post-test capacity for supplementary data. The combined results of both research phases yielded four primary implications for successful “strengthening of seams” and building solidarity across difference. They were: the importance of self-work, care cultivation, rigorous inclusivity, and hope-focused agency.

Keywords: Social Justice, Sustainability Education, an Ethic of Care, Critical Social Theory, Feminist Theory, Intersectionality, Dialogism, Solidarity, Freire, Noddings

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Medrick, Rick
Commitee: Abell, Ellen, Canty, Jeanine, Garvey, Dan, Nelsen, PJ
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 72/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Multicultural Education, Gender studies
Keywords: Critical social theory, Ethic of care, Feminism, Feminist theory, Intersectionality, Meaning-making, Social justice, Solidarity
Publication Number: 3453890
ISBN: 978-1-124-62422-8
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