Year of Publication

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational and Counseling Psych

First Advisor

Pamela Remer

Second Advisor

Beth Goldstein

Abstract

This study specifically aimed to understand, through the lens of the participants, how a six-month transformative curriculum with a specific social justice agenda later shaped their relationship with social justice and prosocial activism. The Holocaust March of Remembrance and Hope Curriculum (MRHC) included a five-month preparatory course, a nine-day immersion in Holocaust history through the March of Remembrance and Hopes study tour in Poland, and a post-trip meeting to present student projects. This study is qualitative in nature and was primarily based on three, sixty-minute interview sessions for each participant. Participants were recruited from the eleven (Mid-western university) students who participated in the journey. Interview questions focused on participants life history relative to racism and discrimination, trip memories, and themes surrounding their current motivation to promote social justice. Each interview was transcribed verbatim by the principal investigator and was analyzed through a constant comparative method. Five major themes emerged across the data as a whole. First, participants definitions of what exactly makes up social justice demonstrated that participants frequently discredited microlevel actions such as addressing a racist joke by indicating this was not large enough to be considered a social action. A second theme which emerged was the powerful impact of one Holocaust survivor on participants life directions in terms of specifically feeling a strong sense of responsibility to promote social equality. Third, participants experiences of the trip mirrored transformative learning models. However, two additional components were needed within the adult learning models that could be tailored for a diversity course with a specific social justice agenda. These components included providing students with ongoing support as well as social activist role-training in order to further integrate the lessons from the journey. Fourth, participants awareness of their own social identities influenced which groups later gained the most attention in terms of advocacy.

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