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Teaching Issues of Social Equity: A Pedagogical Approach. Ethel Williams, PhD University of Nebraska at Omaha Presented at the NASPAA Annual Conference October 1, 2010 . Introduction. The world has entered an age of change in which no segment of society has been spared.

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teaching issues of social equity a pedagogical approach

Teaching Issues of Social Equity:A Pedagogical Approach

Ethel Williams, PhD

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Presented at the NASPAA Annual Conference

October 1, 2010

  • The world has entered an age of change in which no segment of society has been spared.
      • changing world demographics
      • the economic recession
      • natural and manmade disasters
      • health disparities
      • corporate greed
  • These changes necessitate a structured and directed discussion in MPA/MPP programs of expectations placed on the public sector.
  • Teaching during a time of social change within an environment of politically charged debate and assaults upon established practices is a daunting challenge.
  • How we approach teaching and the pedagogical methods we use are important.
  • Ethically we must present a balanced view of issues and practices;
  • More importantly we must provide opportunities for students to assess and understand the dynamics of change and the government’s need and duty to respond equitably.
  • What we teach, and how we as teachers of public administration teach, during this critical period affects
      • what students learn,
      • their frames of reference,
      • what they believe, and
      • how they organize their interactions with their constituents and their colleagues.
  • This presentation:
      • looks at the meaning of social equity and how it conjoins public administration;
      • raises the question of whether current societal changes may necessitate a return to earlier definitional emphases;
      • examines pedagogical approaches conducive to teaching theissues associated with social equity.
      • recognizes that many of the challenges associated with teaching issues of social equity are the same challenges associated with teaching issues of diversity and cultural competence
      • is descriptive rather than normative; recognizing that there is no “one best way”.
social equity
Social Equity
  • According to George Frederickson (1990) social equity is a term that comprehends an array of value preferences, organizational design preferences and management style preferences.
  • It emphasizes
      • equality in government services,
      • responsibility for decisions and program implementation,
      • responsiveness to the needs of citizens rather than the needs of the organization,
      • and an approach to the study of public administration and education that is interdisciplinary, applied, problem solving in character and theoretically sound (p. 229).
social equity1
Social Equity
  • Phil Rutledge (2002) stated “In the early years of applying concepts of social equity to public administration, the emphasis was on race and gender in employment, democratic participation, and service delivery.”
  • He added, “Over the years the phrase social equity has come to encompass the many complex issues associated with fairness, justice, and equality in public administration” (p. 32).
  • According to Mitchell Rice, “While the concept of social equity does denote fairness and equal treatment, this view does not clearly and fully address the concept in the practice of public administration” (2004).
social equity2
Social Equity
  • During the past thirty years, social equity has grown in importance in public administration
  • At the same time, “Americans have become less equal in virtually all aspects of social, economic, and political life.
  • In our literature, in our classrooms, and in our administrative practices we have learned to talk the social equity talk.
  • But if the data on the growing gap between the haves and have-nots in America are any clue, we are not walking the social equity talk.” (Frederickson , 2005)
social equity3
Social Equity
  • According to NAPA we have major failures in service delivery, because we do not understand the needs of the stakeholders.
  • The concept of catering to the needs of our culturally diverse population has not been clearly accepted and understood by the community of public administration/public service delivery scholars and administrators (Mathews, 2008; Rice, 2004).
  • This may call for a return to earlier emphases in social equity.
social equity and pa education
Social Equity and PA Education
  • What is the appropriate role of public administration education in social issues?
  • “Nothing is more crucial to the role and purpose of public administration than how students are educated to meet the complex tasks that await them” (Ventriss,1991).
  • How do we prepare students to understand their roles in “walking the social equity talk”?
social equity and pa education1
Social Equity and PA Education
  • Challenges facing PA educators
      • need a new political and pedagogical language for addressing changing contexts and issues
      • need to provide the conditions for students to address how knowledge is related to the power of both self-definition and social agency
      • need to provide students with the skills, knowledge and authority they need to inquire and act upon what it means
        • to live in a substantive democracy,
        • to recognize anti-democratic forms of power,
        • and to fight deeply rooted injustices in a society and world founded on systemic economic, racial, and gendered inequalities (Giroux, 2004,31,32).
social equity and pa education2
Social Equity and PA Education
      • need to recognize persuasion and information are crucial to understanding, participating in, and being constructive agents in societal change.
  • This type of communication involves a transforming of people’s beliefs and preferences through
      • discussion
      • visual imagery
      • accurate/timely information
      • private and public venues for assessment & reflection
  • The transformation often takes the form of moving from being motivated by self-interest to being concerned with justice (Young, 1993).
  • How is this best taught to MPA/MPP students?
  • Curricula for public administration faculty provide little or no substantive focus on how to teach in a time of social reform.
  • Pedagogy in the discipline is focused on the teaching process including the use of technology. It may not include the ethics and morals of communicating social justice. Existing curricula provide little or no substantive attention to teaching sociopolitical and sociocultural issues in educational programs for teachers (Freire,1999; Nietro, 2003).
  • In a study exploring how social justice can be promoted by teachers, Boutte (2008) admits that few teachers “have developed tools to address difficult issues such as discrimination and oppression” (165).
objectives of the pedagogy
Objectives of the Pedagogy
  • To help develop moral and ethical reasoning
  • To help develop self-awareness and self-evaluation
  • To help examine personal assumptions, confront social issues, and engage in social actions
  • To help expand the notion of a “communicative democracy” in which there is significant discussion on issues in a society (Habermas, 1979)
  • To help instill the need to be a constructive agent in the changing society
objectives of the pedagogy1
Objectives of the Pedagogy
  • Challenge individual perspectives
  • Unlearn traditional ways of thinking and related stereotypes, and relearn ways to address biases and change the status quo
  • Reinforce theoretical concepts with practical application
  • Foster a sense of social justice
helpful pedagogies for social equity
Helpful Pedagogies for Social Equity
  • Mayhew and King (2008) studied the approaches used by college faculty to teach students to reason more effectively about issues with a moral dimension.
  • Their study found three pedagogical strategies to be the more effective
      • active learning
      • reflection
      • faculty-student interaction
helpful pedagogies for social equity1
Helpful Pedagogies for Social Equity
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Experiential pedagogy
  • Eco-pedagogy
  • Transformative pedagogy
  • Today’s MPA/MPP faculty have a major responsibility
      • for effectuating the understanding of global changes of tomorrow’s world;
      • to help empower students to act ethically and proactively – providing a sense of independent thinking;
      • to be facilitators and transmitters of open, ethical discussions and training, so that students feel empowered to recognize and address inequities in policies and practices with an honest and clear-sighted focus.
  • Does your current teaching approach
      • convey the message and responsibility for social equity;
      • communicate the need fairness and equity associated with demographic, economic and other societal changes;
      • challenge traditional racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes often perpetuated in society and sometimes “played out” in policies and practices;
      • help students to recognize and challenge personal biases or stereotypes?
sources cited
Sources Cited
  • Frederickson, H. G. (1990). Public Administration and Social Equity. Public Administration Review, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 228-237
  • Frederickson, H. G. (2005) The State of Social Equity in American Public Administration. National Civic Review 94 no4 31-8 Winter. pp. 8-31
  • Giroux, H. 2004. The Terror of Neoliberalism. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers
  • Habermas, J. (1997). Communication and the Evolution of Society. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Parenti, M. 1997. Methods of Media Manipulation. Humanist, 57 (4), 5 – 7.
sources cited1
Sources Cited
  • Rice, M. (2004) Organizational Culture, Social Equity And Diversity: Teaching Public Administration Education In The Post Modern Era. Journal of Public Affairs Education, vol. 10, no. 2, 143-154.
  • Ventriss, C. (1991). Contemporary Issues in American Public Administration Education: The Search for and Educational Focus. Public Administration Review, 55, (1) 4-14.
  • Young, I.M. (1993). Justice and Communicative democracy. In Radical Philosophy: Tradition, Counter-Tradition, Politics, ed. R. Gottlieb. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.