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Vol. 19 (2005 Fall)

Envisioning New Forms of Praxis: Reflective Practice and Social Justice Education in a Higher Education Graduate Programs

  • Kimberly A. Kline
  • Megan Moore Gardner
June 19, 2017


Student affairs graduate programs tend to prepare individuals via theory but do not engage in dialogue that addresses how to transfer that theory into practice. In many cases, social justice issues are neglected. As student affairs scholars/practitioners and women, we find ourselves engaged in conversations with colleagues about a shared concern: entry-level student affairs professionals are not adequately prepared to survive the political environment of higher education. In an effort to illuminate our understanding of this dilemma, we focused on this shared concern with a deep interest in creating some type of actionable change within student affairs preparation programs. Our research indicates that understanding individual social action theories is intrinsic to building a community that supports diversity. Habermas (1990) speaks to the theory of "communicative action," or a process of building understanding among groups of individuals. Habermas' concept of communicative action can serve as an analogy for both the instructor and the student in a student affairs graduate classroom. In accordance with this analogy, the instructor and students are oriented toward discovering their own meaning, personally and as a group, while accessing theories that are applicable in student affairs practice.