Leadership and Educational Equity

Instructor Name: 
Sarah A. Bunton, PhD
Course Description: 


Cultivating Leadership Capacity and Promoting Educational Equity

This interactive course explores the conceptual intersections of educational equity, social responsibility, and the development of leadership capacity. Using a tiered leadership model as a framework, and with a foundation emphasizing education as a key influence on an individual’s social and economic future and opportunities, this class partners with Portland Public Schools (PPS). Throughout the term, PSU students have opportunities to develop their own leadership behavioral repertoire through activities with PPS students like tutoring, mentoring, and teaching, all while reflecting on related topics like self-awareness and social change with classmates. A free PPS volunteer background check is required for this class.

Senior Capstone courses are designed to build cooperative learning communities by taking students out of the classroom and into the field. Students from a variety of majors and backgrounds work as a team, pooling resources, and collaborating with faculty and community leaders to understand and find solutions for social issues. Experiential learning facilitates the creation and ownership of mutually beneficial goals, as well as underscores the meaning and power that an engaged citizen has or can have on themselves and on the communities in which they are and will be a part. 

Educational Equity Capstone Cluster Goals:

  • To facilitate an understanding of education, civic engagement and social responsibility and education as essential to a healthy, functioning, and democratic society
  • To explore and dismantle barriers to educational access (power and privilege)
  • To gain an awareness to educational experiences as fostering pathways to success
  • To develop leadership

Specific Course Goals:

  • To facilitate understanding of the importance of educational equity and educational capital in society
  • To develop an understanding of  the social change leadership theory and to develop students’ leadership potential to become more civically engaged
  • To encourage students to develop their own responsible working theory of leadership and to empower students to participate in social change
  • To provide students with an understanding of leadership capacity development
  • To facilitate linkages between leadership theory and practice by providing practical experiences when working with high school students

Primary Learning Objectives:

  • Gain awareness of civic engagement and social responsibility and their importance to our democratic society [UNST goal: Ethics, agency, and community]
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of effective interpersonal communication and relationship building for school and community settings;  demonstrate knowledge of conflict management skills [UNST goal: Communication]
  • Explore and analyze identity, power relationships, and social justice in historical contexts and contemporary settings from multiple perspectives. [UNST goal: Diversity, equity, and social justice]
  • Begin building a leadership portfolio that demonstrates and integrates classroom learning, leadership experiences, and personal reflections; develop and demonstrate critical thinking skills through written assignments and presentations  [UNST goal: Critical thinking]
Project Description: 

The format of class sessions is based on the understanding that students actively construct their own learning. Class sessions will emphasize active and collaborative learning, including discussions focused largely on assigned readings, student experiences at the community partner site, interactive lecture, and in-class projects.

Attendance and participation: Class attendance and participation are a required component of the class. Preparation includes completing readings on time, having discussion points for class, active participation in class activities,peer grading exercises, and leading discussions. 

Reflective essays: A series of reflective essays will be utilized to synthesize the various course components.

Community service activities:  Informed community work comprises this portion of the grade.  Students spend approximately 20 hours per term engaged in activities at the school course partners.  Students will deliver an oral in-class reflection on their time at the schools. Students will also co-create and develop a group project/resource for the school.

In-class final reflection: Students will be asked to respond to a series of questions on the content covered in the class over the course of the term. Notes and materials may be utilized during this writing exercise, which is to reflect on the integration of the Universities Studies goals (communication; diversity, equity and social justice; critical thinking; and ethics, agency, and community) in the course and work with the community partner.