Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date



This research studies social justice education as a critical instrument in anti-poverty work. The project specifically calls attention to how social justice can be implemented through literacy based lessons that engage students with hands-on activities as well as one another. Congruently, the project seeks to understand community partnerships by examining how experiential learning within college classrooms better connects undergraduate students to nearby towns and schools. Based on previous social justice research, there is a rising commitment to make education more universally accessible and applicable to all students. By grounding lesson plans in methods more culturally relevant (Ladson-Billings 1995; Gay 2010) to student life, studies (O’Meara 2017) have found that students are more likely to have long-term positive outcomes. Literacy based activities, in particular, have proven to yield higher rates of classroom participation at all ages by providing a platform for student expression at a personal comfort level (Cairney & Breen 2017). Across all social justice research, there is a call for experiential learning as a channel for critical reflexivity and identity awareness raising (Akella 2010). Experiential learning has been deemed especially crucial for future educators as the demand for field experience (Coffey 2010) grows. This research aims to further understand the impact of culturally relevant pedagogy and how it deviates from what we currently know about traditional education practices. This project looks to illuminate how educator-to-student relationships emerge when curriculum shifts to have a more student-centered foundation. Finally, this research hopes to further unravel the correlation between literacy-based activities and student expression as well as discover how these particular social justice based lessons contribute to the fight against poverty.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Education Studies, Sociology

Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Group Grant

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Meredith Madden