Theorizing Feminist Transformation in Higher Education
by Lynn Safarik — 2002
Over the past several decades, academic feminisms, like other emancipatory knowledges that have gained legitimacy in the academy, have contributed to a transformation on American campuses that is challenging traditional norms, values, and assumptions across the disciplines in an effort to build communities centered on differences. As a new paradigm for inquiry, feminist scholarship has addressed the relationship between knowledge and its social uses and how patriarchal values have shaped the content and structure of knowledge. Through an in-depth exploration of nine feminists’ worldviews and approaches to teaching and research, this study examined the meaning of transformation for diverse feminists in the setting of a large, urban research institution. Three types of feminism were identified: liberal, critical, and dialogic. Beyond providing rich descriptions of how these different feminists enact a feminist culture, insights about the process of institutional transformation are revealed. The transformative role of internal differentiation and the dialogic process in this feminist community and the significance of an emerging dialogic, feminist discourse have important theoretical implications for understanding how the transformation of an institution is sustained over time.
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