Introduction to the Social Justice Theater Program

In a cultural environment that necessitates awareness and advocacy, a group of teaching artists came together with an idea to respond to questions of social justice using our skills as theater artists. We set out to develop a social justice theater arts curriculum that could be tailored to the individual classroom teacher’s curriculum. We recognized the variable nature of different schools and communities, and therefore felt strongly that having a flexible model for curriculum was imperative. After months of communicating with potential schools we were able to find several different locations in which we could collaborate between teacher and teaching artist in individualized iterations of a social justice curricula.

Our goal was to promote awareness and empower the individual student voices by providing a creative approach to understanding and responding to issues related to social justice. Through the collaborative nature of the design, teachers also were able to express their voices, challenge themselves, and connect with students in new ways.

As always, there is a research component to our work. In particular, we are interested in investigating the following themes in the social justice theater programs:

  • What agency do you feel you have to impact issues in the world around you?
  • In what ways, if any, did your understanding of social justice related issues change as a result of working together as a group to respond to an issue?
  • Do you feel more equipped to talk about or promote awareness of issues surrounding social justice?
  • Do you see social justice issues in your school that are ignored or not addressed?

Throughout our work, we will highlight five versions of the social justice program run in the 2016-2017 school year through a series of short reflections on our website. In addition, at the completion of all programs at the school year’s end, research will be compiled to share our findings and there will be a summary video giving samples of the students’ and teachers’ work.

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