Expect the Unexpected: (Re)Defining the landscape of equity work during COVID-19


  • Christina Wright Fields Marist College
  • Mary Kelly Aurora Public Schools




No matter where we look, most higher education institutions have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of these institutions offer or require a diversity course, where students engage in critical discourse and reflection about issues of equity, privilege, and oppression.  In Spring 2020, we were challenged with (re)defining a diversity in education course from onsite to online. Data from two course assignments were collected to understand in what ways did student language around social justice shift onsite versus online. The findings indicate that a change in the learning environment did not impact students’ social justice language and students were able to make connections between social justice or equity issues and the global pandemic. The students became more vulnerable and willing to share their experiences and perspectives surrounding the global pandemic and especially the impact it had on their previous K-12 education, higher education, and future careers.