Creating spaces for radical pedagogy in higher education
This paper tells stories from a higher education study abroad collaboration entitled Investigating Diversity, Human Rights and Civil Society in Japan and Australia. Starting from a pedagogical focus on students’ active learning about human rights, this project has come to value relationship building—between academic institutions, civil society and community groups, and individuals. We ask ‘what is human rights education?’, and argue for a radical pedagogy in which knowledge about human rights and diversity is negotiated in ‘third spaces’ (Bhabha). In an attempt to address the ‘im/possibility of engaging with alterity outside of a pedagogic relationship of appropriation or domination’ (Sharma), learners ‘become border crossers in order to understand otherness on its own terms’ (Giroux). As the stories demonstrate, active learning also requires active unlearning (Spivak). Pivotal to our radical pedagogy is a conception of human rights education as dialogic and that creates the conditions for ethical encounters with otherness.
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