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Integrating Equity, Diversity, And Inclusion Into Social Innovation Education: A Case Study Of Critical Service-learning

Integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion into social innovation education: a case study of critical service-learning

New Taylor Center publication! Integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion into social innovation education: a case study of critical service-learning

In an article for the Social Enterprise Journal, Professors Rebecca Otten and Máille Faughnan, Taylor Program Manager Samantha Fleurinor, and 2020-2021 Taylor Graduate Assistant Megan Flattley write about integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) frameworks into a social innovation course at Tulane through critical service-learning. Their paper presents a unique pedagogical and curricular for “changemaking education” to address complex, 21st century social and environmental challenges.

The introductory course acquaints students with social innovation, which addresses social problems by reconfiguring resources and relationships to change system behaviors. The authors argue that shifting social innovation practice towards a justice-oriented, ecosystem approach requires integrating EDI as core competencies of a changemaker toolkit. The student-driven data in this study suggests that a critical service-learning experience can spur such transformative EDI learning. Students credited the combination of several factors, including: an exemplary social enterprise partner, Grow Dat Youth Farm; an atypical service structure emphasizing relationships, stakeholder power, and a social change mission; and a complementary multiculturalism framework from VISIONS, Inc. that addresses identity development, culture sharing, and structural levels of oppression.

This work was made possible through the generous contributions of time and energy from community members, past and present, at Grow Dat Youth Farm, VISIONS, Inc., and Tulane University. The authors are particularly grateful to Jabari Brown, Jeanne Firth, Johanna Gilligan, Joshua Schoop, Kevin Connell, and all of the Grow Dat youth leaders that have co-created transformational learning experiences over the past six years. The authors are also grateful to all of the student and stakeholder respondents for participating in this research and to Devon Walker, Edson Cabalfin, Kenneth Schwartz, and Laura Murphy for their support in pursuing this research.

This case study was conducted on land originally inhabited and traversed by over 40 native tribes who called it by the Choctaw name “Bulbancha,” a place of many tongues. Starting in the 1700s, colonizers exploited Black labor on this stolen land, then known as Allard Plantation (Grow Dat Youth Farm in City Park) and Foucher Plantation (Tulane University). City Park and Tulane University remained segregated until 1958 and 1961, respectively. In acknowledging this history, the authors reflect, “We honor the past, present, and future generations who steward this place by considering our responsibility to the land and committing to the healing of ongoing harms from colonialism, racism, and environmental destruction.”

The article will appear in a special issue of the Social Enterprise Journal, a publication that explores social enterprise and entrepreneurship through an interdisciplinary lens. The special issue explores how higher education institutions can support social innovation. The Taylor Center is also proud to offer open access to this publication, as well as others from our Taylor scholars, as part of our commitment to open access research and lifelong learning.

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