Learning about self and the world beyond: Cultural,

religious, and social justice clubs in high schools

Participating in cultural, religious, and social justice clubs may not only present wonderful opportunities to learn about the many factors that make us unique individuals (e.g. linguistic, cultural background, ethnic background…), but also to discover that we may all be similar in many ways (e.g. youth sharing triumphs and concerns regarding school…) as members of  diverse broader communities.

For a summary of the project and certain findings, please check out this article (see page 58) entitled “Learning about Self and the World Beyond: Cultural, Religious, and Social Justice Clubs in High Schools” written by Antoinette Gagné and Stephanie Soto Gordon in: Inquiry into Practice: Learning and Teaching Global Matters in Local Classrooms.

We want to know more about your experiences and the impact that your participation in these clubs may (or may not)  have had in your life. We invite you to click on “Read more” below and explore the links on the right if you want to know more about this research or/and would like to share your experiences.

Read more

Although there is considerable research on the impact of student involvement in school clubs (Kort-Butler & Hagewan, 2012; Knifsend & Graham, 2012; Bohnert, Fredricks, & Randall, 2010; Darling, Caldwell & Smith, 2005; McNeil,1998), there is very little on the topic of involvement in cultural or religious and social justice clubs. According to Peguero (2010), school club extracurricular activities often establish social networks of peer support with common interests (Feldman & Matjasko, 2005, 2007). The primary goal of school clubs is to facilitate social interactions among the students who join (Darling, Caldwell, & Smith, 2005).

Our guiding questions are related to the nature of students’ experiences in the various cultural, religious or social justice clubs, and the effect of club participation on identity and intercultural communicative competence development as well as learning about the world beyond.  These questions are most closely supported by Bridget Gersten’s (1998) research which reviews the value of cultural clubs as a strategy to break down barriers and to promote understanding between ELLs and mainstream students because they create a context where there can be an exchange of information around “social, academic, and cultural topics.” In addition, Lisa Taylor’s research (2004) suggests the strong positive impact of ELLs’ involvement in leadership and social justice camp activities. In particular, our research will explore themes about building relationships, honouring one’s roots, promoting intercultural communicative competence, social justice and dealing with discrimination.