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Social justice through citizenship education: a collective responsibility

Sara Winstead Fry (Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA)
Jason O’Brien (University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama, USA)

Social Studies Research and Practice

ISSN: 1933-5415

Article publication date: 23 May 2017




Existing research suggests that preservice elementary teachers tend to believe “good” citizens are people who follow laws and help others rather than people who embrace a more active model of citizenship that includes working to improve society. The purpose of this paper is to propose that this trend results from a self-perpetuating cycle of passive citizenship that develops in part due to state curriculum standards and school experiences which focus on transmitting knowledge rather than preparing students to be active agents of change.


The paper presents the results of action research conducted in a teacher preparation course; the research was designed to investigate the impact of a systematic effort to see if preservice teachers’ perspectives could be broadened to include a social justice perspective.


As a result of the findings, the authors argue that to counteract the cycle of passive citizenship, education to create a more socially just world must be a collective responsibility shared by teachers at all levels, K-16.


This is original research that examines an approach to end a cycle of passive citizenship by promoting social justice.



Fry, S.W. and O’Brien, J. (2017), "Social justice through citizenship education: a collective responsibility", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 70-83.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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