‘The Problem of the Color Line’: Faculty approaches to teaching Social Justice in Baccalaureate Nursing Programs

Claire Paulino Valderama-Wallace, Ester Carolina Apesoa-Varano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Social justice is put forth as a core professional nursing value, although conceptualizations within foundational documents and among nurse educators remain inconsistent and contradictory. The purpose of this study was to explore how faculty teach social justice in theory courses in Baccalaureate programs. This qualitative study utilized constructivist grounded theory methods to examine processes informing participants' teaching. Participants utilize four overarching approaches: fostering engaging classroom climates, utilizing various naming strategies, framing diversity and culture as social justice, and role modeling a critical stance. They deploy specific strategies, varying largely by race, educational background, and nursing specialty. A background in social sciences supports pedagogy that interrogates health inequities rather than merely raising awareness about disparities. Findings also reveal that faculty of color navigate institutional structures predicated upon colorblind racism and problematic views of culture, which many white faculty teaching non-Community Health Nursing courses described doing. To enact social justice and be answerable to our communities, concerted anti-oppression efforts are needed across education, research, practice, and policy. This includes sustained commitment to address colonialism and whiteness in every institution that defines, promotes, and claims to advance nursing so that we can fulfill our responsibility to address unjust systems and structures to serve our communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNursing Inquiry
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


  • colonialism
  • hidden curriculum
  • nursing education
  • pedagogy
  • professionalism
  • social justice
  • whiteness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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