Capstone Project Title
Culturally Sustaining Social Studies: Practical Applications to a High School Elective Course
Jana Lo Bello Miller
Scholars including Delpit, Ladson-Billings, Chandler, Paris and Alim remind us that schools must be a place where students’ cultures are validated, centered, and sustained. Social studies classrooms are optimally positioned to allow students to explore issues around race, class, gender, and other forms of (in)justice. Yet while many social studies teachers wish to teach in alignment with the theory of culturally sustaining pedagogy, powerful factors make its tenets difficult to enact in the classroom. This project embedded culturally sustaining pedagogy into curriculum design for a high school Environmental History elective. Using Tomlinson and McTighe’s (2006) Understanding by Design + Differentiated Instruction curriculum design model as a baseline, then incorporating core elements of culturally sustaining pedagogy, this project explored ways that culturally sustaining pedagogy can be authentically enacted in a real classroom. The project resulted in a curriculum that engages students with present and historical environmental justice issues, including indigeneity, class, race, and who is writing the history. While it was designed specifically for an American Environmental History elective setting in mind, the curriculum or individual lessons from it could be adapted for a variety of social studies classroom settings including American Studies, American History, World History, or Human Geography. The project’s curriculum design framework may also be used outside of the social studies discipline. The goal of this curriculum is to enable students to engage with their own cultures while cultivating a passion for environmental justice, while the aim of the study is to give teachers a curriculum-development tool to embed culturally sustaining pedagogy into all types of classrooms.
Curriculum, Interdisciplinary Teaching, Multicultural Education, Social Justice
Thomas, Emily, "Culturally Sustaining Social Studies: Practical Applications to a High School Elective Course" (2021). School of Education and Leadership Student Capstone Projects. 702.
School of Education Student Capstone Projects