Thursday, January 7, 2016

Social Change

Bernie and Rita Turner founded Walden in order to provide a graduate education to people not economically able to seek doctoral degrees at traditional brick and mortar institutions requiring a year of residency, is an example of positive social change. By enabling people from other developing and developed nations to obtain doctoral educations the Turners widened the network of scholar- practitioners engaging in critical discourse at a graduate level. Such discourse involves dialogue about epistemological, experiential, communicative, and/or political questions, which as Brookfield (1995) suggests, are questions that frame how we view the world. By becoming critical Brookfield (1995) further suggests, we are able to put names to what we do, break through the walls of isolation and substitute for colleagues who are not in face-to-face dialogue with us. By thinking more critically we are pushed beyond our comfort zones and forced to consider the big picture or the social context of our local dilemmas.

Deliberately creating a change, whether negative or positive, in one small aspect of society produces change across that society. By affecting social change through creation of Walden, the Turners have affected global doctoral education. This action took into account innovative delivery of doctoral education but not necessarily innovative teaching methods. To sustain success into the future, Walden could strive towards more innovative teaching methods, similar to the Siemens and Downes course in 2008. Learning was spread across networks, including Diigo, a wiki, a blog, Second Life, and Twitter. Content was gathered using aggregators and tags, much like a library gathers similar content using the Dewey Decimal system.

Lack of access to education for all by excluding working class people from obtaining a doctoral education limits the numbers of people using critical thinking to affect social change in their slice of the world. By working to change that, the founders of Walden are affecting social change around the world. I have affected social change by contributing to the work of CURE International at their hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan to provide pre-natal and post-natal care as well as delivery to mothers in that locale. Without support, mothers would not have access to pre- or post- natal care or access to safe deliveries. Mortality rates are affected by such social change and make clear that a positive change is taking place in that locale.

Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Storming the citadel: Reading theory critically. In Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (pp. 185–206). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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This is a reposting from early in my doctoral journey at Walden. I now find myself at the other end of the journey still contemplating the implications of social change in the work that I do.

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