Pursuit of Equality: Rethinking Schools - Lens of Social Justice


About Focus Clusters:

This FOCUS cluster pursues themes associated with Duke's strategic goal of using knowledge in the service of society. Increasingly in American higher education, both public and private institutions are underscoring their commitment to civic engagement in their curricular and co-curricular offerings. This stems from an increased recognition of the important role that our colleges and universities play in helping to solve real world problems in our local, national and international communities. Duke’s commitment to civic engagement has been widely recognized, and students in this cluster will become widely familiar with how Duke is engaged with it is many communities.

Students enrolling in the FOCUS cluster will learn about, critique, and explore the conceptual underpinnings of the pursuit of civic engagement and will get real life experiences through a service learning course that places students in a Durham public school and a leadership course that provides students the opportunity to develop and act on enterprising civic engagement ideas.

SLA (service-learning assistant) perspective on this class:

"As a current graduate student, I seldom get a chance to relive my carefree childhood, the curiosity that lead me to pursue the field of science. My experience at George Watts Elementary school as a service-learning assistant (SLA) for Education 111 has been phenomenal thus far. Being part of the Education FOCUS cluster, I got the opportunity to interact and learn from some of the most intelligent and curious buddies both at the elementary school and at Duke. The fourth and fifth graders at George Watts Elementary school have exceeded my expectations in all regards.  Students are not consumers of facts. They are active creators of knowledge. Through service learning interactions like those provided by the FOCUS program benefit the students academically, professionally, and personally, which is absolutely vital to the social, cultural, and economic growth of our nation."

About the Instructors:

David Malone is the Director of Duke Service-Learning. David joined the faculty of Duke in 1984 and teaches courses in educational psychology, literacy, and service-learning. Working closely with colleagues at Duke and in the Durham Public Schools, David helped develop a service-learning/tutoring program that matches about 300 Duke students each year with children who need assistance in reading, math, and academic learning strategies. In 2006 David was named Faculty Director of the Office of Service-Learning within Trinity College, and shortly afterward the office was administratively housed within the Program in Education and re-named Duke Service-Learning.

In the video below, David Malone explains the "Five R's" of service-learning:

Jan Riggsbee is the Director and Chair of Duke’s Program in Education and the NCATE Unit Head for the Duke University undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation programs. As a licensed K-12 educator with more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, school administrator, curriculum specialist, and teacher educator, Riggsbee’s research interests focus on teacher retention and professional development; school curricula and reform; school leadership; and community-based learning. Recent initiatives include a three-year federal grant initiative focused on service-learning as a pedagogy for K-12 schools, a research project with faculty in Psychology and Neuroscience to study factors impacting fifth-grade students’ transition to middle school, and a six-year professional development and renewal program for mid-career teachers in the Durham Public Schools. Recent honors include recognition by the Dean of Arts and Sciences and Dean of Academic Affairs for teaching excellence (Fall 2012 and Fall 2010) and the Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award/The Robert B. Cox Award in 2006-2007.

Read an article "The Role of Liberal Education in Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers" by Malone, Riggsbee and Straus

In 1954 the Supreme Court case Brown versus the Board of Education forever changed American schools by ending segregation and creating educational equity. Or did it? Are today's schools any more inclusive or socially just than schools were 50 years ago? Examination of ways schools may or may not perpetuate and reproduce social inequities. Focus on recent efforts to imagine and create socially-just schools. Discussion of our ethical responsibilities as civically engaged citizens to work towards educational equality and provide support of schools that are inclusive, culturally responsive, and democratic. Required service-learning experience working with children in a Durham public school.



Enroll Consent

Department Consent Required

Drop Consent

Department Consent Required

Curriculum Codes
  • CCI
  • EI
  • SS
Cross-Listed As
  • RIGHTS 111FS
Typically Offered
Fall Only