ABSTRACT

We are historians committed to exposing social justice topics to students in and out of the classroom, work together to examine victories and less successful strategies for bringing issues of equality to undergraduates at liberal arts colleges. We are aligned with bell hooks’s teaching that the classroom “remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.” This essay gives several examples from our teaching lives that expose the struggles in teaching diverse and even polarized student bodies at liberal arts colleges in 2017. We demonstrate some of the ways in which we try to motivate students to examine historical narratives and examine their own assumptions as they enroll in our classrooms, do service learning, remember, write, and act. We want every student, no matter their identity and political persuasion, to feel like a valued community member both in and out of the classroom, and we have strategized together over the course of our careers to refine our teaching techniques and discuss both challenges and successes.

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