Call for Abstracts--Special Issue: Pedagogy of the Polarized 

The question of how to teach democratic citizenship has endured since the founding of the American republic and has been a central concern within the canon of pedagogical theory. John Dewey, bell hooks, Ernest Boyer, Henry Giroux, and Martha C. Nussbaum each made this a foundation upon which to theorize the purpose and practice of teaching. How are we to teach students the art of civility, dissent, ethics, judgment, and civic/community engagement in an era marked by austerity and intense polarization along racial, class, regional, religious, gender, and sexual difference? What are the implications for student learning that stem from the varying approaches? 

This special issue seeks to address these questions and more toward an interdisciplinary dialogue about how college and university faculty can respond to the challenges posed by teaching democratic citizenship in an era of social unrest, inequality, and political polarization. The special issue is committed to creating space for diverse methodological, philosophical, and disciplinary perspectives from across the academy. Possible questions and topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • What does it mean to be vulnerable in the classroom and what are the best ways to address controversial public and political topics in the classroom? How do we deal with student (and stakeholder) backlash from all parts of the American ideological spectrum?
  • How do we teach in a media culture saturated with fake news and popular buzzwords such as “privilege checking,” “safe spaces,” “political correctness,” or “cancel culture”? 
  • What are the best ways to teach civic engagement, service learning, and other pedagogical techniques for fostering campus/community relationships in this era?
  • How have the events of 2020 (the election, Black Lives Matter peaceful protests, the COVID-19 pandemic, rioting and looting, white supremacist extremism and violence, and declining student enrollments) influenced the atmosphere for teaching or changed the way we teach? What strategies have worked and what have not when it comes to teaching students to develop a growth mindset or their own self-actualization in the midst of so much turmoil?
  • How are we to address or respond to academic and non-academically based criticisms of Gen Z students? Put another way, are Gen Z students too coddled or encouraged to be close-minded as Frank Bruni, Jonathan Haidt, and others have claimed?

We invite 300-word abstracts submitted via email to (deadline December 18, 2020) for data-driven articles, case studies, reflective essays, or critiques. Please use the subject line “JoSoTL Pedagogy of the Polarized Issue.” Abstracts will be blind reviewed and invitations to submit a full article will be sent by February 1, 2021. The full article deadline will be June 1, 2021, followed by double-blind review. The target date for publication is December 1, 2021. Manuscript categories are described as:

  • Articles: data-driven formal research projects with appropriate analysis, formal hypotheses and their testing, etc. These studies are either with a quantitative or qualitative emphasis and authors should indicate the appropriate domain. Acceptable articles establish a research rigor that leads to significant new understanding in pedagogy. 
  • Case studies--a case study focuses on an intense analysis of a specific teaching situation or problem that led to a solution. Case studies are well-grounded in the literature and should have the following components: description of the teaching situation or problem, solution or solutions attempted, quantitative or qualitative analysis of the effectiveness of the solution, reflection on the implications and possible generalization to other settings or populations. 
  • Reflective essays (Type 1): essays deeply-rooted in the literature and interrogate current practice, encourage experimentation, or draw novel conclusions. 
  • Reflective essays (Type 2): essays that analyze and interrogate an actual teaching experience addressing a polarizing issue. Accepted type 2 reflective essays will be aggregated as a section of this issue. 
  • Critiques: a systematic and detailed assessment of a published empirical study, case study, or reflective essay. A critical evaluation should deconstruct the work, identify both strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate it in light of its purpose. 

For more information or questions, please contact the journal’s Editorial Team: Michael Morrone (Editor in Chief) or Christopher Young (Managing Editor) at

Special Issue Editor: Steve Rahko, Indiana University-Bloomington