Exploring the intersection of digital literacy and social justice on Wikipedia

Volunteers worldwide are continually improving Wikipedia’s content, making it more accurate and more representative of human knowledge and experience. It’s a task that is never complete, and one that requires dedication and perseverance.

Dr. Kirstyn Leuner’s students at Santa Clara University were up to the task last term when they learned how to contribute to Wikipedia as a class assignment. As her course page on the Wiki Education Dashboard reads, Dr. Leuner designed her course to “explore the intersection of literacy, digital literacy, and social justice by studying Wikipedia and the gender gap in Wikipedia’s content and among content-creators.”

The gender gap on Wikipedia refers to gaps of two kinds: gaps in content as it relates to the coverage of women (only about 17% of biographies are about women) and a gender imbalance in the volunteer-base that produces Wikipedia’s content (about 80-90% of Wikipedia contributors identify as male).

Dr. Leuner’s course description states, “We will practice activism by contributing to Wikipedia to increase equal representation among Wikipedia authors and its content.” In response, students created and improved Wikipedia articles on a variety of topics, including a few of the following examples.

Francisco Jiménez is a Mexican-American writer and professor at Santa Clara University. As a child, he immigrated to California with his family, who pursued migrant farm work and moved frequently. Jiménez earned his B.A. in Spanish at Santa Clara University in 1966, and became a professor at Columbia University, then later at Santa Clara University. He has received numerous teaching awards for his work. He has also received recognition and awards for his writing. He published his first autobiographical novel in 1997 and has also written autobiographical picture books.

Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver was a United States Supreme Court case in 1973 that found the Denver, Colorado public school system to be in violation of anti-segregation laws. Specifically, the case found the school system to be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, the basis for Brown v. Board of Education almost twenty years earlier. The judge ordered the system to desegregate, a ruling that was important in defining de facto segregation for future cases.

Students in Dr. Leuner’s course also expanded the article about Cameroonian novelist Marie-Thérèse Assiga Ahanda; created one for civil rights activist Jean Childs Young; and improved many more!

Interested in teaching with Wikipedia? Visit teach.wikiedu.org or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org with questions.

Header imageFile:Santa Clara, CA USA – Santa Clara University – panoramio (11).jpgMARELBU, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


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