Language Teacher, Office of Vice President for Teaching & Learning
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK
JULIE BUTTERS is a Language Teacher at UCC Language Centre who specialises in English Language, Academic Discourse and Skills Development. Julie has been teaching for 17 years and working in higher education for 13 years. Previously, she worked in various London universities, predominantly supporting international students. Her role also included developing and delivering CPD sessions on critical approaches to intercultural sensitivity and inclusive language for university staff. In 2015, Julie completed an MA in Applied Linguistics at King’s College London, where she specialised in Sociolinguistics, specifically looking how language can be used to discriminate. Working in China and seeing the challenges students faced when studying in the UK, inspired Julie to explore issues of representation and inclusion surrounding this group of students for her thesis. Julie has since presented at various conferences on the topics of Inclusivity, Diversity, Critical Discourses and Student Engagement in Higher Education. She has also taught in Spain and Brazil.
One reason I wanted to participate in the DISC project was to help me build a deeper understanding of social justice and embrace it in the classroom. The MA in Applied Linguistic focused on critical discourse analysis, raising my awareness of how language and discourse can be used to exclude marginalised communities. It was then that I became passionate about language and the part it played in social justice.
My interest in social justice in the classroom was sparked by a research project conducted by a colleague, making me realise how sanitised and problematic the content of curricula and coursebooks were. I learnt the acronym ‘PARSNIP: politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, -isms and pork’ (ridiculous I know!), and how, along with issues of social justice, they are avoided in English Language Teaching materials.
I started questioning what should be at the core of teaching and learning, feeling that not having social justice content was a missed opportunity to discuss issues that mattered. Therefore, I have been incorporating social justice into lessons, but at times my own fear has prevented me from embracing it even though student feedback has been very positive including comments such as ‘..makes learning more meaningful…appreciated listening to different perspectives and having a space to question mine…’
I also wanted to participate in this project to encourage me to speak openly about institutional injustices as I have started to look critically at the injustices that surround UCC and questioning how complicit we are as an institution.
- To gain a deeper understanding of what social justice in teaching and learning means
- To critically evaluate the content, including course materials and assessments, in terms of incorporating social justice in the classroom
- To critically investigate how social injustices affect teaching and learning at UCC
To learn more about Julie’s course development and planning for the Spring 2020 semester, please choose from one of the links below.
REFLECTIONS AND OUTCOMES
To learn more about Julie’s pedagogical orientation and approach as well as her experiences of participating in the DISCs Project, please click on one of the links below.
What is the purpose of Higher Education?
What does it mean to incorporate social justice principles into my teaching?
Reflections on the DISCs Project