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Culture, Equity,
Power, and Influence

E D U  6 0 5 1

W I N T E R   2 0 2 2


Examines the broad construct of culture and explores how these characteristics impact personal identity, access to education, social mobility, power, and influence. Explores educational institutions as cultural systems and questions concepts at the heart of personal and professional interactions in teaching, learning, curriculum, and administration. Expects students to participate in reflective discussion and begin the personal exploration of their own feelings and experience with culture; to develop competencies spanning cultural and international boundaries; to prepare to be more effective in diverse settings; and to influence and advocate for systemic change.


Culture, Equity, Power, and Influence has given me new tools to utilize in my role as an educator. Like I mentioned in my signature assignment, understanding equity isn’t something you can give someone else–they have to learn and put in the work themselves. It was great to be able to read and learn at my own pace and put in that work. I felt that I had a fairly good baseline knowledge on these concepts before the course started; however, there is always more work to do and the readings we had were really interesting to me.In particular, I think one of the first readings was my favorite. 

Not only was “Equity Literacy for All” a great reading as a primer for the rest of the course, but it also was a great reading to utilize going forward. The structure of the four abilities, recognize, respond, redress, and cultivate, is a nearly universal method to evaluate equity in any situation, something built into Gorski and Swalwell’s 5 principles: “Principle 1: Equity literacy is important in every subject area” (p. 37). While the abilities and principles they describe are particularly useful in higher education, they are also easy to utilize in day to day life. Of all the readings we have had in this course (which I have saved and organized into a binder to reference throughout this program), this reading is one that I plan on utilizing in my work consistently moving forward. I also think that it was probably the reading that most informed my opinion of what it means to be a justice-minded and equity-oriented educator.

It is not enough to simply be aware of people’s privileges and disadvantages and the systemic and institutionalized forces that maintain them. To truly be a just-minded and equity-oriented educator means those things need to inform and change how we do our jobs–we can’t just sit back and watch it happen. As an educator, I have already made a commitment to work to my fullest potential, utilizing all my skills and resources to do so. As a justice-minded and equity-oriented educator, I will commit to: (1) putting all students, regardless of their background, first in everything I do, (2) evaluate any inequities that currently exist in my area of focus, (3) look for solutions to inequities, and if I can’t be the person to enact those solutions I will bring them to someone who can, (4) continuously ask questions and never settle for maintaining the status quo. Gorski and Swalwell put it best in the last of the four abilities: this work “requires an understanding that doing so is a basic responsibility for everyone in a civil society” (p.37).

I hope to take everything I have learned in this course into other courses in this program. Many of the issues we discuss in the program, based on course titles and descriptions anyway, are conversations that are all informed by matters of culture, equity, power, and influence. In particular, race, religion, gender, sexuality, and physical ability have come up so far in my other courses. I am sure that moving forward I will see these topics emerge again, as well as the introduction of other groups of people I haven’t learned about. 

The last comment I would make about this course is that it both existed as a challenge itself, but also issued us a challenge to overcome. The work was exactly that: hard work. This course would mean nothing if it was a collection of powerpoints. It challenged pre-existing personally held beliefs and norms, and those of the larger cultural space and moment we inhabit. Furthermore, students should walk away from this course taking a new challenge head on: utilizing these new skills and tools to enact changes in the culture around us in order to create an equitable society with whatever power and influence we have at our disposal. As Gorski and Swalwell say: “we can avoid these pitfalls by building our multicultural curriculum efforts, not around cultural awareness or cultural diversity, but around the cultivation of equity literacy in both ourselves and our students” (p. 40).

I look forward to creating a more just justice-minded and equity-oriented world.

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