Caucusing Syllabus

Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization and Caucusing at ACPA19 Syllabus

Welcome to a collection of readings, videos, and audio files designed to provide you with language and frameworks you might find helpful as you work to actualize the SIRJD and/or participate in Caucusing at ACPA19. Each month leading up to convention, we will release a series of materials curated to provide you with the knowledge necessary to engage in this important work. Whether you are new to this discourse, seeking a fresh perspective, or what to revisit work you have done in the past, we hope you will find these resources useful.

Every release and resource will include directions on which content areas are the most important, and a brief description of each work. If you have questions, issues with accessing the materials, or suggestions for materials to use next year, contact [email protected]

October: Social Justice Philosophies and Practice in Student Affairs: Why this Work?

It is recommended you review all documents for this month to understand why these discussions are important to our field and ACPA as an organization.

Presents seven frameworks for engaging with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each framework is accompanied by an example vignette, examples of constructive and destructive manifestations, and theoretical background. Given the goals of the strategic imperative, you may wish to begin on page 14 with “Diversity” instead of reading the entire article.

Provides an overview of early perspectives and theoretical orientations toward student affairs work, shifting toward more critical perspectives that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. Useful as an overview of the history and trajectory of the field – and should be read with questions in mind of “How far have we progressed since?” “How might we reframe these theories today?” “What might we add?”.

An interview with vignettes where prior ACPA convention speakers and Professor Kelly reflect on the role of student affairs professionals in making campuses more inviting and welcoming spaces. Also provides examples of self-reflection on speakers’ own dominant and marginalized identities.

An interview with vignettes from prior ACPA convention speakers, ACPA members, and Dr. Tran-Estera speak on their approaches to developing social justice competencies. Speaks to the role of relationships, vulnerability, and ongoing analysis of the world around us helps us to develop social justice competencies.

Provides an overview of the emergence and goals of the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization.

November: Decolonization: A Primer

This month’s content involves a significant amount of reading. We suggest you pick at least three of the pieces below, reading the rest as bandwidth permits to deepen your knowledge of decolonization – a topic that manifests itself in different ways across different contexts. Note that the articles in the first section are available as open access, via permission of the author, or via Google scholar.

This essay provides a list of ways in which non-indigenous peoples benefit from settler colonialism by adapting the White Privilege Knapsack developed by Peggy McIntosh.

This essay (which should be read in tandem/after the prior essay on the Invisible Knapsack of Settler Privilege), reviews the barriers folks encounter when confronting their settler privilege.

This work defines the various forms of colonization, alongside its manifestations within society, and praxis that can serve to unsettle/decolonize society.

Reviews the current literature on Indigenous students’ pathways through higher education. This article then transitions into a critique of common models of student success and retention in higher education scholarship, as troubling given the ways in which education has been colonized for Indigenous peoples. Presents a holistic model of Native participation in higher education adapted from Canadian institutions.

Asks how to restructure higher education as a space inclusive of indigenous peoples. Provides a series of examples from policy changes to programming to digital initiatives and beyond from exploring cases across a variety of institutional types.

Additional Resources

Note: Some of these resources require a university library login, as we were unable to attain the permissions to post or share to the web.

Provides a definition of settler colonialism and the dimensions by which it uproots Indigenous rights and justifies its own existence and process. Succinctly outlines historical examples of settler colonialism, and actions taken by Indigenous communities to reclaim and decolonize their lives.

Provides a theoretical outline of the 9 tenets of tribal critical race theory.

Provides a historical overview of the colonization of the land involved with the Dakota Access Pipeline, along with a number of rich resources about the ways in which settler colonialism impacts Indigenous communities.

Repository of resources about settler colonialism in the United States as well as the ways in which federal and municipal governments act to suppress Indigenous communities and ignore their needs/rights.

Outlines the politics of identifying as Native American. Specifically, pays attention to issues of legal status both in relationship to White society and within tribal governments, and the personal relationship one has with their Indigenous culture. Posits that there is not a unified framework for understanding and interpreting Native American identity. Invites white educators’ to self-work on core principles.

Outlines the history of Hawaii as an outpost and colony of the United States in the Pacific, how imperialism shaped the process of colonization, and raises examples and questions of pono or how to make things “right/just/proper/good.”

December: Racism in Higher Education

This month’s content involves a significant amount of reading. We suggest you pick at least 4 of the pieces below, including two pieces about the ways in which people of color experience racism in higher education, one piece about whiteness, and one of the additional resources. Note that the articles in the first section are available via Google scholar.

Provides an introduction to the various manifestations of racism in higher education from the overt to the more subconscious. Provides specific examples, alongside approaches to shifting institutional culture and student engagement to redress experiences of racism. (Note: Video Requires ACPA member login. Please log into your myACPA account before accessing.)

Examines how researchers explain, discuss, and theorize about racial differences in student achievement, faculty and staff turnover, and other outcomes that are routinely disaggregated in the study of higher education. Findings reveal that studies aimed at examining college access and outcomes fail to consider the influence of racist institutional norms.

Provides a typology of Asian Pacific American college students’ experiences with racism: manifestations, reactions, and implications for practice.

Provides a theoretical outline of critical race theory. Leverages a dialogue between a faculty member and graduate student about mentoring to highlight power of counternarratives and how Latinx cultural capital shapes and informs LatCrit theory and research methods through the sharing of experience.

Provides a summary of the experiences of people of mixed race navigating the tensions between their racial identities.


Presents an examination of the daily personal and institutional benefits associated with Whiteness in U.S. society.

This info graphic briefly outlines the impetus that drove ACPA to adopt the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization in 2017, as well as key talking points for explaining the strategic imperative to colleagues.

Provides an in-depth review of the conditions that exist in predominantly White (namely, U.S.) societies that privilege whiteness and insulate White people from the realities of racism in society. Described in greater depth are the ways in which “White fragility” or the cognitive dissonance and discomfort experienced by White people manifests itself in discussions surrounding race and race-based injustice.

Additional Resources

Note: The first article requires a university library login, as we were unable to attain the permissions to post or share to the web.

Presents four propositions towards a CRT of higher education. Through each proposition, there are numerous examples to highlight the importance of centering race, naming White supremacy,  disrupting Eurocentric ideologies, and legitimizing the experiences of people of color within higher education.

Recorded after the White supremacist riots in Charlottesville, this web panel provides a break down of the structures in place that enshrine a culture of White supremacy within higher education. Debunks the notion that academe is a haven of progressive behavior through examples of academic cultural norms that reinforce racism, classism, genderism, etc. Also highlights resources, examples, and opportunities to understand structural change for racial justice.

Article explores the experiences a predominantly White cohort of student affairs graduate students have engaging in discussions around race. Core findings focus on negotiations of readiness to engage in dialogue, divisions across race, and how they bring their own experiences with racial diversity into discussions with their peers. Implications for integrating such discussions into predominantly White educational spaces are offered.


January: Self-work and Action

This month’s content focuses on the necessity of introspection when engaging in racial justice and decolonization as an everyday practice.

This chapter focuses on describing the nature of difficult dialogues; the dynamics and impact that power, oppression, and privilege have on these dialogues; the role of dialogue in the organizational change process for higher education institutions; and practical strategies student affairs professionals can employ to address social justice issues from a human and an environment perspective.

Uses a series of examples to outline the importance of relationships, partnerships, and community-centered advocacy in work with Indigenous communities – specifically in educational contexts. Includes guidance around avoiding Euro-centric paradigms in relationship to the structures and purposes of educational spaces.

Presents a framework for talking about issues of race and racism centered on inter- and intra-personal dynamics: how are we as a group and individuals upholding racist norms? Outlines cases where racial dialogue was facilitated and makes recommendations for future dialogues.

Provides a brief taxonomy of the different personas (with constructive and less-than-constructive traits) one might wear when engaging in discussions around topics connected to social justice. Then outlines some key principles for facilitators to remember when engaging in dialogues around social justice.