Critical Geography as Theory and Praxis: The Community–University Imperative for Social Change

Moira Ozias, Penny Pasque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


University administrators, faculty, and staff must engage in newly fashioned community-university collaborations that better address systemic inequities and injustice during this complex time in U.S. history. Graduate students are tomorrow’s higher education leaders with the potential to fund, design, and facilitate curricular and cocurricular opportunities, including community engagement and service-learning initiatives. As such, we analyzed graduate students’ text and talk through critical discourse analysis and identified discourses—and pedagogical possibilities—that facilitated more socially just community-university collaborations. What emerged were 3 specific discourses of community-university collaboration that graduate students use: (a) discourses of volunteerism and service, (b) discourses of student outcomes, and (c) discourses of systems of power, where the first 2 discourses confirmed existing literature. Uniquely, some students shifted discourses over time. In addition, the 3rd discourse of systems of power reflected an expressed vision for social justice and included concepts of critical geography. In sum, a critical analysis of space emerged as a useful tool for building and sustaining social justice-oriented talk, understandings, and practices of community-university engagement. The current study advances new understandings about critical geography as a theoretical approach and analytical tool for community-university engagement and service learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-110
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Community engagement
  • critical discourse analysis
  • critical geography
  • equity
  • graduate education
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Critical Geography as Theory and Praxis: The Community–University Imperative for Social Change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this