Advocacy & Policy

NAEA Position Statement on Visual Arts Education and Social Justice

[Adopted March 2015; Reviewed and Revised March 2018]

NAEA recognizes the importance of visual arts education to raise critical consciousness, foster empathy and respect for others, build community, and motivate people to promote positive social change.

Artists and cultural organizations often engage with the issues of their time, and some treat the creation and/or curation of art as a social practice. Art can provide a meaningful catalyst to engage and empower individuals and communities to take action around a social issue. The processes by which people create and interact with art can help them understand and challenge inequities through art education and social justice.

The interconnectedness of online resources and social media has enabled many social justice and service learning projects to grow into global arts-based efforts. Visual art educators are encouraged to have their learners participate in social justice/service learning projects or to identify, create, and implement their own. These projects can help educators and learners bring about awareness of social justice issues, open dialogue, and identify ways in which the arts can impact efforts to address injustice.


Anderson, Tom; Gussak, Gussak David; Hallmark, Kara Kelley; Paul, Alison; Art Education for Social Justice, NAEA, 2010

Gorski, Paul C. and Pothini, Seema G. Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education, Routledge, 2014.

Manifold, Marjorie Cohee; Willis, Steve; Zimmerman; Enid, Editors. Culturally Sensitive Art Education in a Global World: A Handbook for Teachers, NAEA, 2016

Tavin, Kevin and Morris, Christine Ballengee Editors. Stand(ing) Up for Change: Voices of Art Educators, NAEA, 2013.

Wright, Dana E., Active Learning Social Justice Education and Participatory Action Research, Routledge, 2015. Participatory-Action-Research/Wright/p/book/9781138821712

Young, Bernard, Editor, Art, Culture, and Ethnicity, NAEA, 2011.

Visual Art Educators may find this quote useful in their social justice work.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

- Margaret Mead

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