by Lauren Silver
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies
Six years ago, I remember beginning my new faculty role with excitement and trepidation. I was joining an interdisciplinary Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University-Camden. What unique attributes of a course in Youth Identities, for instance, could be communicated through a childhood studies lens? Needless to say, I haven’t discovered a formula; but I want to share a couple of principles—proximity and changing the narrative—that have guided my scholarship and approach to teaching childhood studies.
I borrow these principles from Bryan Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. He explained in his 2015 Rutgers Camden Convocation speech that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; it is justice. Bryan Stevenson believes that we can make the world more just but in order to do so, we must get close to those who are most oppressed in our society—to pay attention to suffering, poverty, exclusion, and injustice. Through proximity, there exists the potential to know others better and to tell stories that honor human dignity and complexity. Bells went off for me: yes, proximity has always guided my teaching and research! In order to get close to youth marginalized through race, poverty, gender, location, and sexuality—to understand their worlds in depth—I began a journey many years ago as a feminist ethnographer. Continue reading Staying Close to Look Deep: Teaching Childhood Studies