Lessons in justice
School of Education
Seungho Moon focuses on promoting social justice and equity through curriculum studies
By Kristen Hannum
“I try to promote cross-cultural conversation between East and West,” says Seungho Moon, EdD, an assistant professor of curriculum studies in the School of Education. Through his programs in schools, his writing, and his teaching, the native of South Korea advocates for arts in school curricula, giving children a safe environment to explore and share their diverse perspectives.
“Art gives us different ways to communicate, gives us a space to think about and respect different ways of thinking,” he explains. “Art is an intangible element, giving rise to our social and ethical imagination. It opens up unknown ways of knowing.”
Curriculum studies as a field explores what knowledge is important. “It looks at what is considered known, and how do we decide who knows what,” Moon says. “I try to provide different ways of looking at the world from different schools of scholarship.” He wants his students to ask other questions as well, beginning with, “How do we promote learning, equity, and justice?”
Loyola recently launched Plan 2020, a five-year strategic plan to promote social justice. This story falls into one of the four strategic priorities outlined in the plan. Read more here.
Moon deliberately carries forward the work of his mentor, Maxine Greene, an education theorist who spoke and wrote at length about the importance of imagination. Another mentor, Janet Miller, taught him the importance of openness in defining curriculum. He met them while studying for his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University.
He’s proven a prolific writer on curriculum studies that promotes equity, multiculturalism, and justice, authoring dozens of articles, book reviews, book chapters, and translations in both Korean and English.
His transnational background, love of arts and philosophy, passion for social justice, and belief in the power of the imagination all led to Moon’s critical questioning of frames of important knowledge and power operations.
Moon came to Loyola in 2015 after teaching for four years at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Budget cuts have meant that arts education in Oklahoma isn’t part of children’s school day. Moon wrote a grant for an afterschool program, ARtS—Aesthetic, Reflexive thoughts and Sharing. Fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the course share their multiple perspectives through their art.
Moon describes both Chicago and Loyola as his “land of opportunity,” a place he can further his work in partnership with schools, designing curricula that combine the arts and social justice. He hopes to build those programs through the School of Education’s apprenticeship, community-based teacher education program, which works in a variety of schools.
“Teaching is not something you can learn from textbooks,” Moon says. “You have to learn by participation. I try to have fieldwork and theory interwoven in each course. You can’t do one and not the other.”
Meet more Loyola faculty who are focused on social justice: