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Trina Valdez

Trina Valdez

Education, Leadership & Policy/College of Education


“Equity, Access and Social Justice”: An introductory course into the issues of equity, access and social justice.

Faculty Mentor: Paula Smith - Education, Leadership & Policy/
College of Education


Education, Leadership and Policy (ELP), a college of education department here at the University of Utah focuses on three areas; leadership, policy and social justice. Courses range from research design and decision making to assessment in higher education, and primarily serve master and doctoral level students. ELP serves students who are interested in K-12, higher education, policy and student affairs issues. The department has recently identified a need to educate their students on issues related to equity, access, equal protection, and social justice. It is our hope to develop a survey course that students will take to help them understand these issues and how each of the ELP faculty are doing work in that area. “Social Justice,” loosely defined, refers to the concept that all human beings deserve access, equal protection, and equity in regards to various rights (food, shelter, education, etc). A course focusing on equity, access, equal protection, and social justice is particularly important because the hope is that by the end of this course, students will have a better understanding of where the equity and access conversation begins for this department. In other words, students will not be surprised or uninformed later in their coursework that courses like Student Affairs and Finance and Budgeting will touch on social justice issues and expect them to be willing to discuss openly. The purpose of this course, therefore, is to introduce students (K-12, higher education, policy and student affairs) to educational issues involving access, equity, equal protection and social justice.


The development of this course will be aligned with the department’s needs and goals and will have a very specific course objective. This course will meet the needs of both the faculty and students. Faculty will have input on what the course should cover, how it should be taught and who should teach it. The assessment plan includes following up with ELP faculty after the course is developed. This will help ensure the course meets the needs of the department and course objectives. Particularly the course development will include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Project concept
  3. Literature sources which would be incorporated
  4. Syllabus plan
  5. Teaching methodology
  6. Structure of assignments
  7. Method of evaluation of projects
  8. Challenges encountered in the development of the subject
  9. Assessment plan
  10. Recommendation for implementation
  11. Conclusion of project

Because the development of this course is a high priority need for the department, this course is scheduled to be implemented Summer 2011. The course will be taught by ELP faculty and it will become a core course.


An equity, access, equal protection, and social justice course has the potential to transfer across departments in the college of education and potentially across other disciplines such as sociology and social work. I think students in Education, Culture & Society, Educational Psychology and Special Education could gain information from this course on the inequalities the students they are teaching are affected by, for instance. Other disciplines like sociology and social work could also gain knowledge surrounding the history and effect a poor education has on society and the families they work with.
Last Updated: 7/27/18