Creating a Culture of Activism in the Education Doctorate
Attempting to combine activism and scholarship would seem natural because most academic research is born out of a deep-rooted desire to change, eradicate, or transform a societal issue. As such, translating research into practice by way of activism would seem conventional for most scholars, because it is “informed by both personal and political values and the need to engage our emotional responses to the world around us” (Derickson & Routledge, 2015, p. 5). However, the elite, “ivory-tower” of the academy is not so accepting of scholar-activists. Perhaps it is because activism places higher education in the cross hairs of the criticisms, critiques, and call-outs that activism seeks to influence. Institutions of higher education have done a mediocre job at cultivating spaces for academics to freely engage in activism, as academics who desire to participate in activism face considerable and specific career-related risks (Flood et al., 2013). Loss of tenure, reduced opportunities for collaboration, decreased funding, isolation, and oftentimes physical threats are but a few strategies used against academics who openly participate in activism. While many activist movements have been birthed on college and university campuses, very few demonstrate a willingness to embrace the causes or individuals involved in these activist movements. As institutions of higher education try to strengthen both the policies and practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion it is imperative that they also examine the oppressive structures, antiquated hiring practices, and exclusionary curriculum that inhibit the culture of activism from thriving. These three specific areas are the focus for this article.
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