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Culturally sustaining pedagogy in higher education: teaching so that Black Lives Matter

Courtney E. Cole (Communication Program, School of Business and Communication, Regis College, Weston, Massachusetts, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 20 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to show how the principles of Black Lives Matter can be used to enact a culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) in higher education settings, particularly in small colleges that serve significant populations of students who are underrepresented in higher education.


Drawing on examples from college courses in media and society, organizational communication, and interpersonal communication, the case study shows application of the principles of Black Lives Matter in the college classroom at two different institutions in the urban Northeast USA, where the majority of the students are young people of color and/or first-generation college students.


The paper shows how founding principles of Black Lives Matter, particularly diversity, intersectionality, loving engagement, and empathy, can be used to guide concrete pedagogical practices. It provides examples of how to use Black Lives Matter as a framework to enhance and improve college teaching to make it more diverse and inclusive.

Research limitations/implications

This case study is based on the author’s experiences teaching at two majority-minority colleges in Greater Boston, Massachusetts, USA. This paper is not the result of a systematic research study.

Practical implications

This paper has significant implications for how to enact CSP in higher education settings. This paper is valuable to those looking for specific strategies to include more diverse and inclusive teaching strategies. This research also shows both the utility and impact of Black Lives Matter when applied to higher education.

Social implications

This paper improves public understanding of Black Lives Matter as a social movement.


Since the Black Lives Matter movement is fairly new, there is limited academic research on it. Further, there has not been attention to how Black Lives Matter provides insight into pedagogy, particularly in higher education.



Cole, C.E. (2017), "Culturally sustaining pedagogy in higher education: teaching so that Black Lives Matter", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 8, pp. 736-750.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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