Faculty of Arts and Education

School of Education

A new program of research on social justice in Australian education

professor galesProfessor Trevor Gale - newly appointed Chair in Education Policy and Social Justice - has recently been awarded funding for three new research projects that will advance knowledge on social justice in Australian education.

The first, “Capacitating student aspirations in classrooms and communities of a high-poverty region” (2012-2014), with Lew Zipin and Marie Brennan (Victoria University) and Sam Sellar (University of Queensland), is a Discovery Project funded by the Australian Research Council. The Project will study the aspirations of students in a disadvantaged metropolitan area, as cultural resources for completing school, accessing higher education and realising desirable futures. It will produce new concepts and research methods for increasing social equity by working closely with students and families, and making links between schools and communities.

A second project, “Student Aspirations in Central Queensland: (Re)imagining higher education in low SES student futures” (2012-2013), with Brian Doig, is funded by CQ University and the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program. The Project will produce knowledge about the aspirations for the future of school students in regional Australia (including their aspirations for higher education), what informs and resources them, and whether and the extent to which these aspirations can be influenced over time (e.g. by university outreach programs).

The third project, “Dispositions Towards Social Justice in Advantaged and Disadvantaged Schools” (2012), is funded by Deakin University’s Central Research Grant Scheme. The Project will generate new knowledge about dispositions towards social justice ‘unthinkingly’ held by students, teachers and schools, through a Bourdieuian analysis of websites of advantaged and disadvantaged Australian secondary schools. The analysis will provide new explanations for correlations between academic achievement and socioeconomic status and new directions for pedagogic work that produce social justice dispositions.

These three projects come at a time of mounting evidence that unfair societies - with large income gaps between its poorest and wealthiest citizens - are closely associated with large disparities in students’ academic achievement. As a program of research, the three projects will contribute to a reassessment of Australian education narrowly focused on perpetuating current and unfair social and economic arrangements.

Prospective research Masters and PhD students interested in being supervised by Professor Gale and working on any of these projects are welcome to contact him directly trevor.gale@deakin.edu.au


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13th February 2012