• Character Clearinghouse Logo

Hungry for Change: Supporting Students’ Awareness of Social Justice Issues in the World Cafe

Society seems frustrated with the perceived “apathy” of today’s college millennial students.  Bombarded with media coverage of every major event around the world, today’s young adults have access to more information than ever before.  But what are they really aware of what is happening around them taking in, and what are they learning to do with that information?

This session will discuss one approach to engaging college students in critical thinking, media analysis, and social justice within the context of a peer-learning environment.  The World Café activity presents students with a difficult social justice issue, media highlights, and the opportunity to confront their own biases and assumptions with the structure and format of the dialogue provided by facilitators.  Our research will also examine how this activity influenced one group of student leaders in terms of their awareness of these issues, and their motivation to act and make a difference in their community.

Extension of session experience

The goal of our session is to provide a structure for participants to engage students in critical thinking and difficult dialogue on their own campuses.  While we will be reviewing the literature, the majority of the session’s time is a hands-on experience with the World Café format.  Attendees will leave with an understanding of how the event functions from the participant’s perspective, and they will also be receiving the participant and facilitator guides.  With the experiential component, and the handouts, participants should feel confident adapting the sample materials to meet the needs of students on their own campuses.

Important question explored

What roles do faculty and administrators play in supporting or controlling student activism and advocacy efforts?  The World Café structure provides faculty, staff, and administrators with an accessible tool for supporting the social justice education of students, student staff, and colleagues without relying on the “expertise” of any particular presenter on any particular topic.


Beth-Paris-150x150.jpgBeth is in her third year as a Residence Life Coordinator at UNF, and has overseen the Osprey Village apartment community since July 2013.  Beth graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Master’s in Early Childhood Development and Education.  Beth’s research interests have often intersected with the Dalton Institute themes, including student employment ethics, socioeconomic diversity education, and social justice education with college students.


Cody-LEwin-150x150.jpgCody is in his first year as a Residence Life Coordinator at UNF, and currently oversees the Osprey Cove community. Cody graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Master’s in Higher Education and student Affairs. Cody’s interests in higher education lie in engaging students in dialogue about diversity, equity, and social justice education.