By Stefanie Wager and Lawrence M. Paska, Ph.D., as originally published in the May/June, 2021 issue of Equity and Access.
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has a bold vision for social studies education: “A world in which all students are educated and inspired for lifelong inquiry and informed civic action.” This vision builds upon our previous definition of inclusiveness as a strategic priority, in which “NCSS encourages, promotes and ensures inclusiveness that reflects society and strengthens civic life.”
The challenge and opportunity for any education organization – from professional membership associations like ours to instructional resource providers – is to ensure that our services and supports reflect the diversity and include the perspectives of our educator workforce, students, and members of our communities. In short, how do we best represent those communities we serve?
Internally, NCSS strives to “actively recruit individuals who raise the voices of all social studies professionals in an organization whose culture is inclusive and where all voices are encouraged, supported and celebrated.” This language is embedded within the fabric of our own policies and actions. It is at the heart of how we fulfill our mission and achieve our vision.
Recently, our organization established a permanent standing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Social Studies Committee to fulfill our strategic priority. To us, strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in social studies learning and teaching includes five possible approaches.
1. Promote equitable, inclusive, anti-racist, and anti-bias practices, resources, and programs in the social studies.
2. Review existing resources, position statements, and publications – and recommend necessary revisions – to ensure that they reflect equitable, inclusive, anti-racist, and anti-bias positions and practices.
3. Prepare position statements and responses to current events and issues that publicize and promote a commitment to equitable, inclusive, anti-racist, and anti-bias positions and practices.
4. Create professional learning opportunities, such as webinars and conference sessions, to promote equitable, inclusive, anti-racist, and anti-bias practices in the social studies.
5. Create and help identify high quality resources for use with faculty and with students to teach topics and teach through instructional practices that promote equity and inclusion.
We adapted these approaches from our committee’s charge, and offer them to guide your own organization’s focus to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in social studies. We invite you to learn more about our organization, our continued efforts to foster inclusiveness, and related work by joining us at www.socialstudies.org.