New Workshops on Applied Critical Leadership in Higher Education

As someone with marginalized identities who has traditionally been viewed as outside of the dominantly defined scope of what  is thought to be considered “professional”, I have longed to be in a position to really critically unpack this notion; including acknowledging the power dynamics involved in who gets to define what that means.

As a part of my ongoing work to build more equitable and inclusive communities, I developed a four-part series for piloting on campus this year for faculty and staff.

Applied Critical Leadership in Higher Education

“a strengths based model of leadership practice where educational leaders consider the social context of their educational communities and empower individual members of these communities based on the educational leaders’ identities (i.e., subjectivity, biases, assumptions, race, class, gender, and traditions) as perceived through a critical race theory (CRT) or other critical lens (e.g., LatCrit, Queer, Feminist, TribalCrit)”

I owe the credit for my introduction to Applied Critical Leadership in higher education to Professor Venice Thandi Sule’ at Oakland University, whom I had the privilege from learning from while taking coursework in Educational Leadership.

Central questions to consider include:

“In what ways do my privileged identities limit my perspective?” “In what ways can centering the experiences of those with marginalized identities enhance the environment?”

From a workshop participant on part 1:

“It was definitely an opportunity to not only think about our bias and baggage that we carry but also an opportunity to share with others very in-depth thoughts and ideas I have been processing for some time. 

The session forced me to share openly about many issues that I rarely have an opportunity to share due to the lack of support, safe space, or even understanding.”

My workshop descriptions are below:

An Introduction to Applied Critical Leadership:

Part 1. Social Identity 101:

This introductory session exposes participants to the concept of social identity and its influence on our experiences. Participants begin to explore the social identities they hold. Participants will also learn more about Applied Critical Leadership and how thinking more deeply about ourselves can enable us to better support and empower others.

Part 2. What is Intersectionality?

Building on Social Identity 101, this session explores the situational intersections of social identities and the implications on group dynamics in the workplace.

Part 3. Accomplice development and positive sense of self:

Approaching leadership from a social justice framework means acknowledging that some identities are privileged more than others. This session seeks to engage participants in thinking about how to support those whose identities are marginalized in ways they themselves are not. For those with marginalized identities, this session seeks to consider their strengths to uncover ways their experiences can enhance their environment from a social justice perspective.

Part 4. Strategizing and Getting to Applied Critical Leadership:

Using case studies and other dialogic methods, this session encourages participants to consider the social context of their environment and find ways to respond to biased and socially unjust thought processes and practices interpersonally and systemically.

I’ve facilitated the first two in November of 2016, with the final two sessions taking place in March 2017 with a goal that they be incorporated institutionally moving forward.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

Relando Thompkins-Jones

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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