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Commitment to Equity and Justice

September 29, 2020

The College of Education is advancing this document as a Commitment to Equity and Justice because it is our duty to provide a framework from which faculty, staff, and students can both unearth inequities and create just environments. As a College, we should engage in the ongoing learning and development needed to be a steward of equity and justice, encouraging the students and communities with whom we work to value and achieve these goals. Given our land grant mission, these commitments extend throughout the State of Illinois.

Equity and Justice: A Humanization Framework

A commitment to equity and justice in education requires all of those who participate in the teaching, learning, and administration of the college to critically examine, un-settle, and challenge institutional and structural oppression that perpetuates white supremacy, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, anti-queerness/cis heteropatriarchy, and ableism. Equity requires that we commit to fair and humanizing relationships across the college. As a college, we aim to address inequity by re-distributing resources and opportunities across educational contexts to those who have been historically denied. In doing so we can simultaneously work towards justice which from our perspective, can be defined as reckoning with past and present oppression to collectively craft a future towards authentic equality that brings about revolutionary change (Gorz, 1967).   It is important to continuously question our ideas, commitments, and actions to equity and justice as a college. To hold ourselves accountable we describe key questions and actions below (see Stewart, 2018, p. 2)

Guiding questions and actions for equity and justice

  • Questions to self-examine and critically reflect on equity and justice
  • Actions, behaviors, and work that help us achieve equity and justice

A member of our College community who centers equity and justice considers the following questions:

  1. How is our institution’s history of systemic oppression tied to the present, and what policies, structures, & practices do we have in place to rectify these inequities in our College?
  2. What structures and practices are in place to recruit & retain minoritized faculty, staff, & students given the predominantly white institution’s history of systemic oppression and exclusion?
  3. How might our policies, procedures, and practices reproduce a white capitalistic structure within the university and College?

A member of our college community who focuses on equity and justice takes the following actions:

  1. Decouples high quality learning experiences and scholarship from the incentive structure.
  2. Annually reviews and adjusts who is seated at leadership and decision-making tables to ensure minoritized voices and interests are represented.
  3. Implements critical feedback from minoritized and underserved peoples.
  4. Increases representation of minoritized groups across the College, especially student, staff, faculty, and leadership positions.
  5. Increases funding opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students from minoritized backgrounds.

Teaching and Learning that centers equity and justice considers the following questions:

  1. How do our pedagogical practices affirm students’ sociocultural identities and experiences?
  2. In what ways are we creating a culture and climate for teaching and learning where students from minoritized groups & backgrounds can thrive, not merely survive, in racially and culturally oppressive teaching & learning spaces (Love, 2019)?
  3. How does the organization of our educational space (our College, courses, schools, and community spaces) ensure access for all,  especially those who historically have not been considered in the design of schooling institutions?
  4. What curricular changes are necessary to disrupt dominant ideas of knowledge production and ensure that the voices contributing to courses of study reflect oppressed epistemologies and challenge dominator culture (Eisler, 1987; hooks, 2013 pp. 36-37 & 57; 2004, pp. 115-116)?

Teaching and Learning from an equity and justice standpoint takes the following actions:

  1. Creates a variety of platforms for participation, reflection, and ideas, especially in classroom contexts where minoritized students’ thoughts and experiences could be other[ed]
  2. Acknowledges, addresses, and eliminates language and behaviors that are dehumanizing, deficit, and/or microaggressive.
  3. Reviews and revises their syllabi, teaching materials, pedagogical strategies, and techniques to ensure that they reflect emerging ideas in the field that center on equity and justice and that are culturally responsive.

An educator focused on equity and justice asks the following questions:

  1. How do we help educators acknowledge their positionalities, especially how their identities are linked to privileges and/or histories of oppression?
  2. How do we support educators in understanding and questioning how their positionalities impact their approaches to education?
  3. How do we prepare educators to understand the experiences of and effectively communicate with children and families in schools and communities?
  4. How do we help educators identify policies and practices in schools and society that continually marginalize students, their families, and communities?

An educator focused on equity and justice takes the following actions:

  1. Advocates for systemic change that is equitable and just.
  2. Leverages their power to create a more equitable and just education system.
  3. Uses their positionality and knowledge of educational inequities to transform and change their practices.

An educational researcher who focuses on equity and justice asks the following:

  1. How do we value, prioritize, and cite the theoretical, epistemological, and methodological contributions of Queer, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, disabled, immigrant, undocumented, women, transgender, and non-binary scholars?
  2. How do we challenge the canon and elevate, promote, and validate theoretical, epistemological, and methodological contributions of minoritized, underserved peoples?
  3. In which ways does our research serve the needs and interests of the communities with whom we work while engaging their  knowledge, expertise, and assets?
  4. How do we share findings and outcomes with and alongside the communities with whom we are engaged in  research?

An educational researcher who focuses on equity and justice takes the following actions:

  1. Designs and disseminates research that exposes and addresses inequity and injustice and offers suggestions for how to remedy those issues.
  2. Develops research that is in service of and/or in collaboration with oppressed communities.
  3. Creates opportunities for local partners and students to contribute knowledge and expertise in an authentic and reciprocal, non-exploitative manner.
  4. Cites and promotes scholarship by minoritized, underserved scholars that exposes and seeks to redress injustice and inequity.

One focused on equity and justice asks the following questions:

  1. What are the vulnerable populations in our community and what communication strategies do we have to engage them?
  2. How do local communities articulate  their needs? 
  3. Which laws, policies, and practices promote institutional and structural oppression?
  4. In which ways are we actualizing our land grant status and our commitment to serve folks across the state of Illinois?

One focused on equity and justice takes the following actions:

  1. Translate the meaning of laws, policies, and practices for the community
  2. Advocates the redistribution of resources based on need on behalf of communities
  3. Connects the community to resources to reach their goals
  4. Recognizes and rewards meaningful public engagement within evaluation structures 


Eisler, R. (1987). The chalice and the blade: Our history, our future. New York: Harper & Row.

Gorz, A. (1967). Strategies for labor: A radical proposal. Boston: Beacon.

hooks, b. 2003. Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge.

hooks, b. (2013). Writing beyond race: Living theory and practice. New York: Routledge.

Love, B. L. (2019). We want to do more than survive: Abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of educational freedom. Beacon Press.

Stewart, D. L. (2018). Minding the gap between diversity and institutional transformation: Eight proposals for enacting institutional change. Teachers College Record, 120(14), 1–277.