CSUCI 11th Annual Conference for Social Justice in Education on April 6 asks attendees to ‘be the change’

March 21, 2019
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CAMARILLO — “Be the Change” is the theme of the 11th Annual Conference for Social Justice in Education at the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus on April 6.

Everyone is welcome to the free conference, including faculty, students, parents and anyone else interested in how education can advance equality for all citizens, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else that has historically divided us.

“In this era in which we’re living, we have such divisions in our country and so many people talk about it,” said conference planning committee member Charles Weis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education. “We believe we have to stop complaining and start acting. We can ask ourselves ‘What can I do to make a difference with all the people I interact with? We are inspired by the idea that one person can change the world and each of us can be that person.”

“Be the Change: Social Justice in and through Education in a Post-Truth Era” runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a keynote address followed by a selection of 14 different workshops with subjects ranging from “Tackling the Scary Racism in the 21st Century” to “Mexican Midwifery Education as an Activist Intervention” to “How You Can Engage Vulnerable Kids.”

Courtesy photos.

This year also includes a Spanish language session called “Empoderamiento de Padres Maestros” or “Empowerment of Parent Teachers.”

The day begins at 8 a.m. in CSUCI’s Grand Salon with check-in and opening remarks from Dean of Education Brian Sevier, Ph.D. and President Erika D. Beck, followed by keynote speaker Danna Lomax, winner of the 2018 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching. Lomax is a veteran teacher at Anacapa Middle School in Ventura.

Lomax was among five teachers nationwide who won a 2018 Teaching Tolerance Award from the Southern Poverty Law Center for her work weaving peace and social justice issues into the curriculum at Anacapa Middle School. She calls this body of knowledge “peace education.”

“Peace isn’t just about personal serenity,” Lomax said. “It’s also about working for social, political and economic justice.”

For example, after the Thomas fire in Ventura, Lomax had her students talk about their losses, then agree upon tangible action to help. One-hundred-twenty students and 20 faculty members then helped to rebuild the ruined Ventura Botanical Gardens. Education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and she believes education must be dynamic, creative and flexible, and not impeded by too many layers of standards and regulations.

“If we’re going to be the change, we have to level hierarchies in our systems, and that’s school systems as well,” Lomax said. “We need to be teaching students standards in a creative environment. I think canned curriculum is the Big Pharma of education.”

Professor of Education Kaia Tollefson, Ph.D., has been helping to organize the conference with a planning committee for 11 years now, and both she and Weis believe it’s time to take the next step from education to action.

“This year’s theme asks us to think about how the work we are doing in education is affected by a political climate in which the value of truthfulness is routinely destabilized,” she said. “More, though, it asks us to be active, to choose ourselves as the people who are needed to make sure that our schools and society are accountable for things like truthfulness, fairness and equitable opportunities for all youth.”

Lunch will be provided, but it’s necessary to RSVP by clicking on: https://education.csuci.edu/justice-conference.

About California State University Channel Islands: CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) is reimagining higher education for a new generation and era. We are an innovative higher education institution that enables students to succeed and thrive – serving as an engine for social and economic vitality that provides the intellectual resources necessary for a thriving democracy. With more than 7,000 students, 1,200 employees and 14,000 alumni, CSUCI is poised to grow in size and distinction, while maintaining one of the most student-focused learning environments in public higher education. Connect with and learn more by visiting www.csuci.edu or CSUCI’s Social Media.

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