Q&A Interview with UTP Author Katrina Sark

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Social Justice Pedagogies presents a wide interdisciplinary perspective on social justice practices in education, research, in and beyond classrooms and institutions. Read the full Q&A with author and editor Katrina Sark, here:

1. Tell us about when the idea for writing this book first came to fruition. Is there a story behind it? How did this topic get fleshed out?

The idea for the book came while I was a sessional lecturer (adjunct) at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, teaching in different departments in Humanities and Social Sciences. I noticed a big change after the TRC Reports were published (in 2015) and how the universities were adjusting, both in terms of neo-liberal precarity and cuts to Humanities education, but also in terms of how the students and some educators were becoming activists. At the time, I organized an interdisciplinary conference panel on Social Justice Pedagogies and there was so much positive feedback that it laid the groundwork for the chapters in this collection. I wanted to create a mosaic of perspectives, from different fields of research and education, to reflect on how education can be more engaging and just.   

2. What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging part was to have to raise funds to have this book published because academic publishing is also a very precarious business and securing publication grants is like playing the lottery. I felt enormous pressure to not let all the contributors down, because more than half of them were young academics and grad students who rely on having their work published to be able to secure jobs and employment. It was a painful lesson in how precarious all aspects of academic work have become, and how this precarity is reinforced across all academic fields and institutions.

3. What was your experience working on this book?

I approached very multidisciplinary scholars, teachers, researchers, grad students, and activists to reflect on the topic of how we make education, learning, teaching, and activism more effective at a time of a global climate crisis, civic unrest, right-wing populism, misinformation, and echo chambers. This volume is a unique collection of a plurality of perspectives, voices, experiences, and expertise from the fields of Indigenous and Holocaust Studies, Cultural and Media Studies, Social Work, Philosophy, Education, Language Acquisition, and Fashion Studies. I reached out to activists, feminists, educators, researchers, and grad students who were engaging with teaching and learning practices in new and unique ways and asked them to share their expertise. What emerged was a very rich collection with interweaving perspectives and a very wide interdisciplinarity that you would not find in other collected anthologies.  

4. Did any themes emerge across some or all of the pieces in this collection? Were you expecting themes to emerge?

Yes, the themes of intersectional feminism, social justice, and decoloniality (which I discuss in the last chapter of the collection in more detail) emerged for me and run across most of the contributions. Many of the chapters complement each other quite nicely and are in a dialogue with others from completely different disciplines or practices, but the uniting thread is how to empower learners, students, citizens, and activists with innovative tools, approaches, theories, and teaching tools that can further social justice.

5. Who do you see as the ideal audience for this new book?

Anyone curious about social justice in educational, social, and political fields of work.

6. What do you hope readers will take away from Social Justice Pedagogies?

I hope that they will find useful and inspiring ideas and suggestions on how to make education more just, engaging, and effective for social justice, regardless of their field of work or research. 

The cover image features covers of the online magazine Katrina Sark started with her students, The Critical Pulse.


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