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Feminist Praxis Revisted: new book co-edited by Dr. Jennifer Johnson


Feminist Praxis Revisited: Critical Reflections on University-Community Engagement is a recently released book co-edited by Dr. Jennifer Johnson, Associate Professor and Chair of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Thorneloe University. Dr. Johnson’s research and teaching interests include feminist geographical approaches to the study of social reproduction and global economies; gender, race and racism; and feminist pedagogies. The book was also co-edited by Amber Dean, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Gender Studies at McMaster University, and Susanne Luhmann, an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. In the book, practitioners in the field of Women and Gender Studies (WGS) discuss how post-secondary institutions can integrate activism and social change through community-based learning and offer solutions on how to tackle the challenge of evaluating student activism for credit.

In the book, the shift in post-secondary institutions towards community engagement as a way for students to earn credits is explored. Combined with in-class learning, these placements provide invaluable experience, allowing students to put theory into practice. Though more and more popular, WGS programs are not new to developing and implementing community-based learning. However, WGS programs often differ from other programs because their students already participate in activist work outside of the school curriculum. WGS practicums are frequently accompanied by a course that educates and guides students prior to, during, and after placement. Some examples of organizations where WGS placements are done include organizations that work with the vulnerable and homeless populations, as well as domestic violence intervention programs. With this book, practitioners of WGS aim to make visible the reasons why universities develop practicums and how they shape them to evaluate students and their work.

The value of “learning elsewhere” is to teach students to reflect on real-world issues by being in an environment different from a classroom. For example, in Chapter 6, students in a Women’s and Gender Studies class were contacted by local families to develop a memorial project about their mothers, sisters and daughters who were killed as a result of domestic violence. During their collaboration, students were able to make links between the broad politics of gender and race-based violence in Canadian society, and the real experiences of the women whose families contacted them. With their research, the authors in this collection aim to create an improved model for “learning elsewhere” via practicums that provide a better foundation for the feminist praxis and the workplace-ready curriculum to coexist.  

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