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Including the Non-Inclusive: A Conversation on Developing Social Compassion and Advocacy in All Students

In higher education, we praise the process and outcomes of student development. Our professional goals often include developing students into active citizens, inclusive beacons of social change, and open-minded guardians of the future. But how do we accomplish this development without imposing our personal values upon students? How do we teach individuals from all backgrounds about privilege and oppression without triggering shame in some students? How do you create a community that is safe enough, but also honest enough, to have the difficult conversations? This session builds upon the work of Dr. Brene Brown, who’s worked to show us the power of vulnerability and Dr. Claude Steele, a researcher of stereotypes and the threat they pose to true understanding of identities. Using these researchers and others, as well as student development theories, and current events we will endeavor to create a dialogue, not a monologue, about how to promote the development of individual students in truly just communities.

Extension of session experience

In developing students as ethical leaders, it’s important to note the individuality of all students. We need to be mindful of students with varying value systems and be mindful of power dynamics in social justice education.  This session collaboratively explores topics of social compassion, vulnerability, and stereotypes in relation to working with students of all backgrounds toward developing just communities.

Important question explored

What do student affairs professionals need to do to create a culture where students will learn what it means to be inclusive in order to truly advocate for change?


Stephanie is a second year Masters student in the Higher Education: Student Affairs program at Valdosta State University. She works as a Graduate Assistant in the Housing and Residence Life department of Valdosta State, specifically as a Residence Hall Director.

Josh is a second year Masters student in the Higher Education Administration Program at Louisiana State University.  He works as a Graduate Residence Director in Residential Life at LSU and researches generative masculinity development in resident assistant men.