Local to global justice: Roles of student activism in higher education, leadership development, and community engagement

Flora Farago, Elizabeth Swadener, Jennifer Richter, Kimberly A. Eversman, Denisse Roca-Servat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined how organizing an annual social justice forum and festival through involvement in a multi-issue, progressive, activist student organization called Local to Global Justice (LTGJ; www.localtoglobal.org) impacted students’ academic experiences and professional development (e.g., scholar-activism, critical thinking, applied learning), leadership development, and community engagement and activism. Current and alumni student leaders (n = 33; 90% graduate students), faculty mentors (n = 3), and community members (n = 4) of LTGJ (N = 40) completed a close- and open-ended question online survey about their educational experiences and related activism, and shared their perceptions about the value of student activism to higher education. The study is grounded in Paulo Freire’s notions of critical consciousness and praxis, and illustrates how activism, regarding local and global justice struggles, enriches students’ educational experiences within and beyond the university. Findings indicate that student activism and organizing the LTGJ Forum and Festival benefited students academically, professionally, and personally in intersecting and intertwining ways. Themes emerged around the roles that activism played in the development of scholar-activism, critical thinking, applied learning, career and professional development, leadership development, and community engagement and activism. Findings also revealed that involvement with LTGJ was an avenue for engaging with communities outside of academia. The article concludes with implications for multi-issue activist groups on college campuses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-172
Number of pages19
JournalAlberta Journal of Educational Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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