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PHD - Doctor of Philosophy




The primary purpose of this study is to explore the social learning experiences and influences on adults’ perceived abilities to teach for social justice in the Deep South. The Deep Southern U.S. is a unique region noted for social, political, economic, and religious conservatism that has strong historical correlations to changes in race and socioeconomic class relations. For these reasons, it is necessary to analyze the reciprocal connection between learning to teach for social justice and adults’ personal lives and relationships. Narrative methods are used to explore the lived experiences of six adult doctoral students taking an advanced course in diversity and oppression in K12 curriculum. Participants recount their lived experiences with people and situations which have served as social models of how issues of social justice have or have not been dealt with in the participants’ lives. Narratives are analyzed using the Voice-Centered Relational Method to highlight how individuals speak about themselves and their family, friends, coworkers, and instructors. The most prominent finding of the study is that the religious beliefs of participants’ families of origin have a significant impact on participants’ current identities, behaviors, and beliefs. Furthermore, participants cite the important role their families of origin play in career decisions and the importance of their own multiple and ever-changing identities as significant contributors to feelings of social justice self-efficacy and doubt. These findings suggest that adults’ native to and living in the Deep South have unique experiences when learning to teach for social justice. These findings further suggest that adult learners might benefit from critical reflection on how their social learning experiences can serve as lenses through which they approach new knowledge that affirms and/or challenges their own worldviews, and subsequently the relationships and identities they have built on their views. Author keywords: social justice education, transformative learning, adult learning, social cognitive theory, Voice-Centered Relational method



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