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Social Pedagogy: Let’s Discuss!

Welcome to the Social Pedagogy Association in the United States! We are an association of individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to the practice, research, and continuing development of social pedagogy. We are a burgeoning participatory organization dedicated to the development of the field of social pedagogy in the U.S. We are hoping to engage with practitioners, professionals, and researchers all over the U.S. to hear about what you are doing and how you are seeing this field grow. We are hoping to use this blog page and our membership forum (link) to get the conversation started. Join the discussion in a comment below, our forum, or join us in a Twitter “chat”.

What is social pedagogy, anyway?

To get started, what is social pedagogy? This is a good question and one without an easy answer! While the term “social pedagogy” has been in use for over a century, it is studied and practiced differently varied throughout countries and cultures. Because of this, there are numerous answers to what social pedagogy could be, making it a great topic of discussion! Daniel Schugurensky, renowned current-day researcher and Social Pedagogy Association board member, writes:

With over 150 years of history, social pedagogy is both an interdisciplinary scholarly field of inquiry and a field of practice that is situated in the intersection of three areas of human activity: education, social work and community development. Although social pedagogy has different emphases and approaches depending on particular historical and geographical contexts, a common theme is that it deals with the connections between educational and social dynamics, or put in a different way, it is concerned with the educational dimension of social issues and the social dimensions of educational issues. (Schugurensky, D. & Silver, M. (2013) Social pedagogy: Historical traditions and transnational connections. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21 (35))

Social pedagogy may be a praxis, a discipline, a philosophy, or any combination of all when used for the purposes of social change. Despite the overall fluidity in definition, however, it is generally agreed-upon that social pedagogy is a means of empowerment and social change.

What is social pedagogy in the U.S.?

In the U.S. social pedagogy doesn’t fit into a particular professional class or job field as it does throughout Europe, however social pedagogical practice and principles are prevalent in sectors such as nonprofit work, youth work and community education, activism, and arts/culture work, to mention a few.

Arizona State University is the only university in North America offering a graduate degree in Social and Cultural Pedagogy. Students in the program can take an interdisciplinary approach to social pedagogy and program graduates have pursued work in youth programs, local governments, museums, nonprofits, intercultural programs, citizenship education, human rights programs, anti-poverty programs, community development programs, literacy programs, and social movements. If you work in any of these fields, we would love to hear from you!

Dialogue is crucial to social pedagogy

The Social Pedagogy Association has been engaged in this dialogue for the past (5) years through the development of the organization, connection to Arizona State University’s graduate program, and administration of international conferences since 2018. Our next international conference “Social Pedagogy Here and Now” will be online June 22-24, 2021. In this online-conference, we aim to encourage the discussion about social pedagogy by letting the participants share projects,

experiences and opinions and develop possible solutions to current (social) challenges.

In addition, we have been working closely with our colleagues at ThemPra in the UK to coordinate the first ever global alliance, where we hope to connect practitioners of social pedagogy from all over the world. Follow our Twitter page for more information as we continue to build our global alliance.

With the advent of online conferences in 2020 and the need to pivot to digital engagement, the SPA is hoping to continue this conversation online with our American colleagues as we establish a clearer understanding of what social pedagogy could be in the U.S. In the coming months and years, we are hoping to engage with our American members to further define the field of social pedagogy wherever it may be found: in schools, museums, street corners, community centers, and beyond., On our blog we will be posting interviews with practitioners in various fields who are engaging in social pedagogy to empower individuals to change their lives and society. We recently launched membership opportunities to help us in this endeavor and hope to have conversations with members on our forum page, where we will post questions about social pedagogy and engage in dialogue with experts in the field.

We would love to hear from you! Please comment on this blog with your field of work related to social pedagogy and where you see areas for potential collaboration. Follow the conversation in our member forum and consider how you can contribute to the growth of social pedagogy in the United States.


1 Comment

Dana Keller
Dana Keller
Dec 30, 2020

Great post! Excited to learn more!

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