Understanding Social Injustice by Walking in Another Person's Shoes

In this perspective taking exercise, developed for a 15-20 student seminar entitled "Counseling and Social Justice," the instructor assigns each student a different character who is experiencing some form of social injustice. These characters are based on real people and events from case studies and national news stories concerning issues of poverty, immigration, interpersonal violence, mental illness, ableism, ageism, and a variety of other factors. Once students have an assigned character, they spend four weeks researching the social justice dimensions of the character's situation. Students then give a class presentation in which they describe their character's life in a simulated first person narrative, oftentimes dressing for the part, and they answer questions from classmates and the professor while remaining in character. Through this experience, students gain a greater awareness of social justice issues and a deeper understanding of how these issues affect a wide variety of people.

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