Crossing Borders: How to Overcome Institutional Barriers to a Pedagogy for Social Justice

Conference: The Paris Conference on Education (PCE2022)
Title: Crossing Borders: How to Overcome Institutional Barriers to a Pedagogy for Social Justice
Stream: Education, Sustainability & Society: Social Justice, Development & Political Movements
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation
Charles Cabell, Toyo University, Japan


Corporate and state domination of university education in Japan has stunted the ability of institutions to cultivate in students an alternative to ethno-national identities centered on profit and consumption. Issues of oppression, violence and ecological collapse go largely unaddressed, while politically passive students, subjected to standardized assessment as "global human resources", are left to struggle alone with feelings of powerlessness, alienation and despair. I demonstrate how to respond to the crisis in education by helping students develop personal values within a nurturing community. Five years ago, I and a colleague restructured the International Association of Japan Studies (IAJS) to create a yearly conference that brings together students, academics, and activists in participatory activities such as round-table discussions, leadership booths and poster sessions. I show how to design courses that empower students by offering choice, attuning them to regional and global crises, and helping them engage with committed activists from around the world. One primary goal is to prepare them to facilitate interactive workshops that are grounded in student lives and focused on equality and justice in the time of ecological disaster. The conference structure connects students to activists who operate outside of direct state or corporate control, and allows students to imagine alternative identities for themselves. Students from multiple nations gain experience in building democratic communities that acknowledge various forms of historic oppression. They learn to value diverse voices, engaging in activism, and imagining responses to the ecological crisis beyond those offered within globalized, industrial capitalism.

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