Advancing social justice: Tools, pedagogies, and strategies to transform your campus. (2013). Tracy Davis and Laura M. Harrison. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 240 pp. Price $45 (hardcover). ISBN 978-1-118-38843-3, http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118388437.html
College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences
Metropolitan State University of Denver
As pressure around issues of equity increases on college campuses, academic advisors are challenged to grow their social justice skillsets. Tracy Davis and Laura M. Harrison provide both a starting point for advisors new to this type of work and opportunities for further exploration for those who have already gathered a basic understanding of social justice topics.
Davis and Harrison are upfront about what readers can expect from the book and they deliver on their promises to provide both a strong theoretical framework as well as practical ideas for professionals to use on their campuses. They are also open throughout about the limitations of the book and the fact that it cannot be an all-encompassing guide to social justice issues, particularly as this information is ever-evolving. They humbly share stories of their own missteps and are careful to provide specific lists of resources that practitioners may want to seek out to continue their exploration of equity issues. By sharing their own gaffes and deferring to others who have more expertise in specific areas, they encourage readers to accept that they too will need support – and at times constructive correction – from others as they work toward social justice. Accepting this as part of the process allows readers to feel more comfortable exploring in the field without feeling pressure to be omniscient.
The authors have provided a thorough history of social justice issues through the publication date and an outstanding glossary of common terms including citations for further reading. They also offer numerous ways in which practitioners can begin to move beyond theoretical understandings of equity issues and engage deeper with these concepts. Advisors will learn strategies to examine their own privilege, build stronger relationships with their student populations, consider how their institution’s actions align with their espoused mission, and develop outreach initiatives that value students as active participants rather than passive recipients of advice. Additionally, advisors may use the toolkit from this book to conduct research as scholar-practitioners who will expand the body of research in the field.
Social justice education is perhaps even more urgent now than it was when the book was written in 2013 and this is an important read for anyone who works on a college campus. Real social change requires contributions from members of both privileged and oppressed groups, from both the campus administration and those on the front line working with students, from those who feel they hold power and from those who think they do not. Davis and Harrison give strong support to each of these groups as they work toward equity on campus and in our communities. Academic advisors can benefit greatly from the strategies and resources found in this book as they advocate for their students.