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Utilizing an "ethic of care" in leadership preparation: Uncovering the complexity of colorblind social justice

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this article is to report on a six-year self-study of a doctoral training program intended to promote social justice leadership via an "ethic of care" framework. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The primary data set utilized was an open-ended survey completed by doctoral students after finishing core course requirements. Data analysis included a thematic analysis of 110 respondents which examined variation in students' understanding and application of issues associated with equity, justice, and diversity, as well as the ethic of care. As a collaborative self-study the data analysis involved procedures of open, independent, and collaborative coding, as well as peer debriefing. Findings ‐ Suggests that the doctoral program has been effective at creating a caring environment and changing students' understanding of diversity and equity issues. Two programmatic weaknesses were uncovered; a lack of curricular integration and student perceptions of social justice and diversity as discrete concepts. Students reported that diversity discussions and readings were centered in one class, suggesting that this lack of integration may marginalize these issues. These weaknesses are explored using the concepts of "caring" and "colorblind" curriculums. Research limitations/implications ‐ Reports on a self-study of one unique program; the findings may not be generalizable to other programs. Additionally, it suggests that leadership preparation programs should attend to how the issue of colorblindness may permeate curricula, structure the classroom environment, and shape interactions with students. Originality/value ‐ This paper is among the first to evaluate the potential for colorblindness in the "ethic of care" as related to supporting social justice leadership in a doctoral preparation program.
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Keywords: Colour blindness; Ethics; Leadership; Learning methods; Racial discrimination; Social justice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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