One of the things the Lab has started to examine in various settings is how young people develop a critical consciousness about oppression, and how they become empowered to address oppressive systems. Critical consciousness, according to leading scholars in the area, is a process by which an individual becomes aware of systemic inequities, becomes motivated and feels a sense of personal efficacy to change them, and results in action taken.
It makes perfect sense then, that the Lab would be interested in identifying how this process develops. How do young people come to understand the systems in which they live? How do they understand inequity, as it affects their own lives and the lives of others? How do they become motivated to take action, and what might that action look like? Understanding community-based practices and programs that contribute to critical consciousness helps us understand how social change happens. Identifying and evaluating these approaches helps us become more humble scholars, researchers, and community members. Part of the Lab’s role is to cultivate and support, through rigorous research, the solutions developed by communities that meet their needs and solve their problems as they experience them. We stop waving our scholarly “solution flag” and develop empirical support for the “solution flags” of communities. Stay tuned for some of these highlights!
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Suggestions for reading more about critical consciousness:
- Acosta, C. (2007). Developing Critical Consciousness: Resistance Literature in a Chicano Literature Class. English Journal, 97(2), 36–42.
- Diemer, M. A., Kauffman, A., Koenig, N., Trahan, E., & Hsieh, C.-A. (2006). Challenging racism, sexism, and social injustice: support for urban adolescents’ critical consciousness development. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 12(3), 444–60. http://doi.org/10.1037/1099-9809.12.3.444
- Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing.
- Horton, M., Freire, P., Bell, B., & Gaventa, J. (1990). We make the road by walking: Conversations on education and social change. Temple University Press.