We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Educating for Social Justice

Transformative Experiential Learning

Edited by Julie Birkenmaier, Ashley Cruce, R. Jan Wilson, Jami Curley, Ellen Burkemper, and John Stretch

Publication Date - July 2010

ISBN: 9780190616113

350 pages
5.9 x 8.9 inches


According to the NASW Code of Ethics, "social workers should challenge social injustice." Educating for Social Justice approaches this tenet head-on, defining it and offering numerous strategies to prompt student reflection and awareness of social justice in their own practice. Educating for Social Justice is a vital resource for instructors and practitioners alike as they work to better incorporate key values of social work into practice. The editors include an overview of social justice theories, practitioner-tested national and international ideas about incorporating social justice into educational experiences within and outside of the classroom, and offer "how-to" guides for instructors to replicate and build on the ideas presented.


  • Seamlessly incorporates theoretical, historical, and practice-based tools for teaching social justice
  • Concisely summarizes contemporary literatures surrounding social justice in the social work profession
  • Offers strategies for incorporating social justice in a variety of settings, ranging from the classroom environment to field placement

About the Author(s)

Julie Birkenmaier, (PhD, University of Missouri-St. Louis; MSW, St. Louis University) is associate professor and director of Field Education at Saint Louis University School of Social Work. Her publication topics include social justice, field education, and financial credit and low-income families.

Ashley Cruce, (MA, University of Kentucky at Lexington; MSW, Washington University in St. Louis) is currently assistant director of Field Education at Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City. Previously, she served as director of the Doerr Center for Social Justice Education and Research in the School of Social Work at Saint Louis University for five years. Her teaching, scholarly interests, and publications have focused on social justice education, international social work, field education, community/university partnerships, and community development in the United States and East Africa.

R. Jan Wilson, (PhD, St. Louis University; MSW, Wayne State University) has worked as a professional social worker for over 25 years. She joined the School of Social Work faculty in 1996 as a member of an innovative field education team and a specialist in family practice and school social work. Her research interests include issues of educational equity and multicultural competence in higher education.

Jami Curley, (PhD, Washington University in St. Louis; MSW, Washington University in St. Louis), is assistant professor of social work at St. Louis University. She teaches in the areas of family and community practice. Curley's research interests include the social-economic development of low-income families using strength-based strategies.

Ellen Burkemper, (PhD, St. Louis University; MSW, Washington University in St. Louis), is associate professor of social work at St. Louis University, where she also serves as chairperson of the MSW Family Concentration Committee. She teaches in the areas of ethics and family practice.

John Stretch, (PhD, Tulane University; MSW Washington University in St. Louis; MBA, St. Louis University), is professor of social work at St. Louis University. He has been an advocate for the homeless for over 30 years and has served as a consultant for the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Teaching Social Justice as an Orienting Value in Social Work Education

    Section 1. Social Justice and Social Work
    1. Defining Social Justice in a Socially Unjust World , Michael Reisch
    2. Theoretical Frameworks for Effective Social Justice Education, Rene Pogue
    3. Spirituality and Social Justice: Theoretical Frameworks, Exemplars, and Pedagogical Implications, David R. Hodge
    4. A Review of Social Justice Courses: Toward Transformative and Cooperative Learning, Philip Young P. Hong and David R. Hodge

    Section 2. Classroom-Based Social Justice Education
    5. Hopeful, Active Realism: A Pedagogy of Critical Social Policy, Stephen Pimpare
    6. An Investigation of Transformative Education Theory as a Basis for Social Justice Education in a Research Methods Course, Julie Schroeder and Rene Pogue
    7. Teaching About Social Justice Through a Multimedia Format, Michael Reisch
    8. Utilizing Cemetery Work as a Mechanism for Teaching Social Justice and Engaging Students in Restorative Justice Efforts, Carla J. Sofka and Diana Strock-Lynskey
    9. Using Transformative Learning to Enhance Social Justice Learning in Diversity Courses, Cecilia Thomas
    10. Learning About Social Justice Through Dialogue: Democracy Lab, Dolly Ford and Linda Ferrise

    Section 3. Social Justice Education Outside the Classroom
    11. Reframing Field Education: Promoting Social Justice in Practicum, Julie Birkenmaier and Ashley Cruce
    12. Family Network Partnership: A Model for Social Justice Education, Michael Forster and Tim Rehner
    13. Cambiamos Juntos (Changing Together): Student Voices on Transformation Through a Social Work Semester in Mexico, Barbara A. Lehmann, Nancy A. Rodenborg, W. Randall Herman, & Sandra C. Robin
    14. Transformation in Action: Service-learning to Promote Social Justice, Empowerment, and Advocacy, Carol A. Plummer, Priscilla Allen, and Catherine M. Lemieux
    15. Organizing on Campus for Civil Liberties and Social Justice, Donna Hardina and Ruth Obel-Jorgensen

    Section 4 Measurement of Transformative Education
    16. Approaches to Measuring Transformative Education Experiences, R. Jan Wilson
    About the Authors