Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction

First Committee Member

Thomas W. Bean, Chair

Second Committee Member

Mary Elizabeth Spalding

Third Committee Member

Linda Quinn

Fourth Committee Member

Sonya Horsford

Graduate Faculty Representative

Lori Olafson

Number of Pages



The purpose of this critical ethnography was to investigate the experiences of teachers and students when literacy instruction was framed within human rights education. Informed by critical socio-cultural theory and Freirean concepts of critical literacy and praxis, this study highlights the experiences of two servant leader interns (teachers) and sixteen scholars (student) participating in human rights education sessions within the context of a CDF Freedom School. Data sources included semi-structured and informal interviews, scholar and intern artifacts including multimedia projects, and recorded classroom discussions. Data were analyzed utilizing Michel Foucault’s concept of “regime of truth” in order to examine how the CDF Freedom School and Human Rights Education articulated notions of freedom, knowledge, rights and power as a counternarrative to the dominant discourse in literacy education. Thematic analysis resulted in the identification of four essential themes in both discourses: literacy as power, construction of rights, construction of particular identities, and advocacy as an intervention in the world. The findings indicate that while both discourses sought to empower students through literacy and in learning of their rights, the particular naming of literacy, identity and rights within each were constraining as well as liberating for the participating scholars. A key implication of this study is the need for a cosmopolitan critical literacy in both discourses that recognizes the need for global and local literacies, identities and rights for 21st century adolescents.


Advocacy; Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools; Educational equalization; Freedom School; Human rights – Study and teaching; Literacy – Study and teaching; Multicultural education; Multiculturalism; Social justice – Study and teaching


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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