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April 7, 2011
NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs have partnered to envision how schools of public affairs and administration and related fields can equip emerging and established public service leaders to tackle inequality and advance social justice. In March, the schools held two day-long regional dialogues as part of a joint Social Justice Initiative in Public Service Graduate Programs.
NYU Wagner and UCLA Luskin began partnering in 2008 and hosted inter-school dialogues in 2009 focused on fostering communities in which issues of race and other markers of identity are discussable. Generous new support from the Ford Foundation allowed Wagner and Luskin to expand these dialogues beyond their schools to include teams of students, faculty and administrators from nearly 30 peer schools on the East and West Coasts, as well as representatives from social work schools, law schools, and other institutions interested in promoting social justice.
The East Coast dialogue was hosted by NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall on March 11, 2011. Jeannie Oakes, director of the Ford Foundation's Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Programs, was the featured guest speaker. She outlined the Transformative Leadership Initiative the foundation has undertaken with a broad swath of universities and nonprofit organizations across the United States. At the West Coast dialogue hosted by UCLA Luskin Dean Frank Gilliam, Jr. on March 28, Dr. Gilliam spoke on behalf of the Ford Foundation.
At both events, discussions focused on the integration of social justice into core curricula, electives, extracurricular activities, faculty development, field building, community engagement, and research. Participants shared best practices; generated ideas to advance for advancement within their individual schools, departments and programs; and developed next steps as a community of schools committed to social justice education.
The Initiative builds on a long-standing commitment to advance social justice that runs throughout Wagner and is at the core of the work of NYU Wagner's Research Center for Leadership in Action. Many of the themes that emerged in the dialogues reflect RCLA's work since the Center's inception, including advancing models of leadership that make structures and systems more inclusive, transparent and fair; establishing deep partnerships between academics and practitioners in research and programs; and fostering and supporting diverse leadership at all levels of organizations and within society to leverage a variety of talents and contributions.
RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe noted, "We are excited to see the Social Justice Initiative gain momentum on both coasts and to have this opportunity to share RCLA's work with social change leaders and other public service partners as a model for leadership development, research and teaching grounded in a social justice approach."
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