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A New International Research Network on Intersectionality, Knowledge Mobilization, and Social Justice in Education

April 22, 2014 — 

In the context of the current social and economic climate globally, issues around identity and social justice come to the fore of political, theoretical and practical discussions. Researchers, practitioners and policy makers are confronted with challenges of how to address social inequalities and promote social justice for present and future generations. Yet efforts towards socially just education often struggle for legitimacy with many equity initiatives operating in relative isolation. There is a need to examine the intersectionality of such issues to garner support and build momentum to develop and employ appropriate methodologies that speak with rather than for participants.

Individuals’ identities and inequalities are complex; a growing field of interdisciplinary research recognises that categories such as ethnicity, ‘race’, gender, social class, disability, sexuality and age intersect in intricate ways, shaping social identities and impacting on everyday life experiences. The way that identities and inequalities intersect has been framed in theory and research through the concept of ‘intersectionality’. Intersectional perspectives recognise the heterogeneity of different groups and examine how certain groups are silenced from and marginalised by dominant political debates. Although intersectionality has been central in generating fruitful debates in social and political theory, its implications for the field of social justice in education have yet to be explored.

Dr. Clea Schmidt

Dr. Clea Schmidt

Dr. Clea Schmidt at the University of Manitoba in collaboration with Dr. Joke Dewilde (Hedmark University College, Norway), and Dr. Geri Smyth (University of Strathclyde, Scotland) have recently been appointed co-conveners of a World Education Research Association (WERA) International Research Network (IRN) to explore and develop intersectionality as a theoretical approach, innovative methodologies, knowledge mobilization, and collaborative international projects.

The IRN on Intersectionality, Methodologies, and Knowledge Mobilization in Research for Social Justice in Education has the following aims:
• To generate new knowledge and identify priorities for action by creating a new network for interdisciplinary and cross-sector exchange and collaboration, bringing together early career and established experts in the fields, for addressing inequalities in research, policy and practice
• To create meaningful, international knowledge mobilisation opportunities between communities, practitioners, policy makers and researchers from the interdisciplinary areas of education, social justice, social identities, childhood/family studies and intersectionality
• To disseminate innovative research, policy and practice
• To firmly establish inequalities and social justice on the agendas of educational research, policy and practice

Currently the WERA supports seventeen international research networks designed to enrich the field of education research by synthesizing knowledge, examining the state of research, and stimulating collaborations or otherwise identify promising directions in research areas of worldwide significance.

The WERA is an association of major national, regional, and international specialty research associations in 19 countries including two regional associations, the European Educational Research Associations, and the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction. They are dedicated to advancing education research as a scientific and scholarly field. WERA undertakes initiatives that are global in nature and thus transcend what any one association can accomplish in its own country, region, or area of specialization.

For more information on the World Education Research Association (WERA) visit:
Dr. Clea Schmidt is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at
the University of Manitoba. She has conducted mixed methods and
qualitative research funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council of Canada (SSHRC), Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
(HRSDC), and the former Prairie Metropolis Centre. Regional, national, and
international projects have included: Evaluation of a program designed to
embed the Essential Skills in lower-level Canadian Language Benchmarks
classes, assessment of school division responses’ to learners and families
for whom English is an Additional Language, and barriers to the
integration of internationally educated teachers. She has co-edited a
volume to published in 2014 by Trentham/IOE Press entitled Learning Spaces for
Social Justice: International Perspectives on Exemplary Practices from
Preschool to Secondary School.

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