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Educational Activism
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The Educational Activism: Social Justice in Classrooms/Schools/Communities conference is an annual event at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT, or simply ‘OISE’) that began in November of 2005. The original intent for organizing this conference was to support teacher candidates in the Initial Teacher Education program, in conjunction with OISE’s Equity Infusion Week. The Educational Activism Conference is intended to be beginner-friendly, and offers many diverse sessions, recognizing that the vast majority of teacher candidates are unfamiliar with ‘activist’ discourses and approaches, and embody a wide spectrum of understandings of equity issues—from novice to expert. This annual conference includes interactive workshops that address equity issues on topics including Aboriginal peoples, race, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation, class, dis/ability, and more.

The Educational Activism partnership of OISE, UNICEF, and the Ontario Secondary Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) was formed in 2007. The initial premise was to support and foster the educational activism ‘best practices’ presented at OISE’s annual conference.

OISE’s mission is to integrate wide ranging research, excellent teacher education and rigorous graduate programs to advance teaching and learning in the many contexts where they occur. Social justice and collaboration are integral parts of OISE’s mandate and help ensure that field-based knowledge, scholarship and research continue to enrich one another.

UNICEF is an agency of the United Nations mandated to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to advance their survival and development, and to help them reach their full potential. UNICEF Canada’s Global Classroom is a domestic public engagement programme that cultivates a citizenry of engaged teachers, parents, children and young people in supportive communities throughout every region of Canada, who seek out regular opportunities to learn more about international development and take action in support of the world’s children. The Global Classroom actively supports the development of Canadian schools and communities that embrace global citizenship and social justice, diversity, gender equity and non-violent conflict resolution.

Through a three year partnership with UNICEF, OSSTF has offered regional global education and social justice conferences. The goal has been to reach out to new federation members and help them integrate equity issues in their schools through their teaching.

What began as collaboration for the conference has expanded to an Educational Activism Research Group which envisions a process to document, support, and extend the work of activist educators in Ontario. Our work has been organized into various stages.
• As a first phase, Educational Activism Conference presenters identified themselves and their work, through ‘activist profiles’.
• Connected to this has been the development of this resource and this companion website http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/edactivism/ which is expected to subsequently form the basis for an enriched, facilitated dialogue among beginning and more experienced activist educators.
• Currently, we are planning a series of ‘round table’ discussions focusing on the past, present, and future of equity work and educational activism in Ontario.
• A future phase of our project, which could seek to further integrate theory and practice, might include short articles, resources for different subjects and grades, and case studies of different types of educational activism and social justice activist work.

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