From the Editor
This is the first 2008 issue of NI News - the quarterly free ezine from the site Nursing Informatics.com.
This publication offers articles, news, product and systems analyses, tech resources and dialogue on global nursing informatics issues, discoveries and theory. We will provide a comprehensive view of informatics in practice, education, research and administration.
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Using communicative and creative technologies to weave
social justice and change theory into the tapestry of nursing curriculum
| This paper will present an analysis of the application of communicative and creative technologies in planning and teaching social justice and activist initiatives in nursing curriculum. The Canadian Nurses Association identified social justice as a priority for nursing practice and education, with a focus on the foundational values of cultural respect, collaboration, equity and capacity building at jurisdictional, national, and international levels (Canadian Nurses Association, 2003). As well, the Code of Ethics that informs nursing in Canada includes a provision related to social justice. “Nurses uphold principles of equity and fairness to assist persons in receiving a share of health services and resources proportionate to their needs and in promoting social justice.” (CNA, 2002, p. 8). Furthermore, Canadian nurses are expected to “be aware of broader health concerns such as environmental pollution, violation of human rights, world hunger, homelessness, violence, etc. and are encouraged to the extent possible in their personal circumstances to work individually as citizens or collectively for policies and procedures to bring about social change, keeping in mind the needs of future generations” (p.15).
Why Social Justice?
The inclusion of social justice has become a priority for a variety of disciplines, such as education, counseling psychology, social work, and others. Since the early 1990's, the social determinants of health have been promoted as a framework to assess levels of health and well-being on a global scale. These determinants identify income inequality, social inclusion and exclusion, employment and job security, working conditions, contribution of the social economy, early childhood care, education level, food security and housing as key factors that shape health and well-being in individuals, families, and communities (Edwards, 2002).
Nursing students learn to view the social determinants of health as foundational to their study of human health and optimal wellness. They are taught to regard these determinants as the root of most health inequalities and that it is their role to work actively to reduce the effects of a lack of social determinant maintenance. Students learn to question how health policy and practice is initiated and to brainstorm ways to influence health reform. As the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) asked, “What narrative will capture the imaginations, feelings, intellect and will of political decision-makers and the broader public and inspire them to action?” (2005, p. 44).
This question is an important one for nursing educators to ask as well, but in the context of their teaching. Mere regurgitation of social justice and health reform theory is not enough to spark activism in students: instead it often becomes mere rhetoric. To make a real impression, actual praxis is needed. Praxis refers to reflection applied to action, meaningful and intentional activity grounded in theory and knowledge yet expressed through activity and purpose. In general, common means used by various groups to promote social justice activism includes the use of the media and digital action alerts as well as lobbying and coalition building. |
Since the advent of the world wide web, many media initiatives include an on-line component, often offering information about selected social justice issues, action kits, and methods for interested individuals to join the initiative and easily send letters to appropriate politicians and decision-makers, as well as share the issue with others. Creative technologies such as Macromedia Flash animations, digital video and audio presentations, and web blogs have been developed by some to provide multi-sensory ways to stimulate interest and support in various social justice campaigns. However, very little of this work has been done to date in nursing.
Since 2005, I have designed and taught a course entitled “Nurses Influencing Change” to fourth year BSN students at Kwantlen University College in British Columbia. The use of information and communication technologies has become a strong thread woven through out this course, with the premise that the “media” is a powerful force in both preventing and initiating social change. Students are exposed to a plethora of web-based initiatives and tools to both examine and learn how to motivate social justice and change initiatives on a grand scale. They are taught how to apply various change theories, and to organize coalitions, to lobby, and initiate online activist campaigns. The students are required to plan a comprehensive social change project; prepare group presentations about influencing social change; and to create web-based digital media projects in which they need to present a selected social issue and apply a known change theory to create a viable action plan to elicit public support (Kaminski, 2005). The question that has continuously guided this work is, “How can communicative and creative technologies be used to stimulate meaningful social justice and change praxis in nursing curriculum?”
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