Upstander for Social Justice through Art Education
In this article, I explore issues of social justice and social justice activism related to upstander and bystander behavior. I begin by discussing the conceptual meaning of social justice and social justice education. Next, I consider social injustices by Nazi perpetrators during the Holocaust and their relevance to current times in the United States. I also deconstruct notions of upstander vs bystander characteristics and traits. I end by exploring a social justice curricular encounter with Linda Stein’s artwork, Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females, to highlight how works of art can be used to explore bystander and upstander behavior toward challenging injustice. Curricular encounters with Stein’s work can foster the “heroic imagination” while allowing students to grapple with deep moral questions that are raised by the Holocaust. The desired effect of the encounters is to foster skills in critical thinking, empathy, ethical reasoning, and civic engagement—all of which are needed to end oppression and sustain social justice in a democracy.