Navigating Identity, Education, and Social Justice: A Dialogue with Scott Tharp

In this engaging episode, podcast hosts Maria and Roger delve into a multifaceted conversation with Scott Tharp, an esteemed scholar-practitioner and educational interventionist. With a rich background in social work, curriculum design, and program evaluation, Scott shares profound insights into the early messages and values that have shaped his personal and professional journey.

  1. Early Messages and Values: Scott reflects on the pivotal messages from his upbringing, including the emphasis on seeing the best in people and the profound impact of learning about hope and resilience during his undergraduate years. These formative experiences laid the groundwork for his commitment to social justice and his belief in the transformative power of education.
  2. Political Nature of Education: Delving into the political landscape of education, Scott discusses the inherent politicization of educational practices and the importance of critically examining the choices made as educators. He highlights the necessity of framing educational work not as partisan politics, but as a means to challenge power structures and foster critical thinking in academic settings.
  3. Social Justice as a Process: Scott unpacks the concept of social justice as a dynamic process rather than a fixed goal, emphasizing the importance of continual learning, unlearning, and growth. Drawing from his expertise in curriculum design and program evaluation, he advocates for a nuanced understanding of activism within academia and beyond.


Scott Tharp is an active scholar-practitioner and educational interventionist, with research interests focusing on the development and assessment of social justice education curriculum and pedagogical practices. He has published scholarly articles in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Transformative Education, Multicultural Education, Multicultural Perspectives, and Whiteness in Education. Scott is also the author of two influential books: Doing Social Justice Education: A Practitioner’s Guide for Workshops and Structured Conversations (2020) and Decoding Privilege: Exploring White College Students’ Views on Social Inequality (2022).

Currently serving as the Associate Director for Academic Program Review and Assessment at the University of Illinois Chicago, Scott enhances students’ educational experiences by partnering with academic degree programs, institutes, and centers to regularly assess student learning and implement campus-wide review processes. With a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies from the University of Illinois Chicago, an M.S.W. from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy from Elmhurst College, Scott also holds an appointment as Affiliated Faculty in the MSW Program at DePaul University. His expertise extends to serving as an assessment mentor for the Higher Learning Commission’s Assessment Academy and his prior leadership role on the national leadership team for NASPA’s Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Knowledge Community as the co-Chair for the Professional Development.


Through engaging dialogue and thoughtful reflection, Scott and the podcast hosts navigate complex topics with depth and nuance, offering valuable perspectives on fostering inclusivity, challenging dominant narratives, and driving meaningful change in education and society.

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The views expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and the speaker.

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