CALL FOR PROPOSALS:  Equitable Educational Systems that Cultivate Thriving Review of Research in Education (RRE) Volume 49 (2025)

A plethora of evidence has demonstrated that education contributes in substantive ways
to the well-being and advancement of nations, communities, and individuals. Indeed,
researchers have documented for decades education’s remarkable benefits on a host
of metrics, including equity indicators (e.g., poverty reduction, social mobility, national
development). At the same time, however, scholars have documented a complicated
paradox; that is, just as educational systems can be designed to advance equity, schooling
policies and practices can also perpetuate inequalities (Carter & Welner, 2013; DiPrete &
Fox-Williams, 2021), leading to and reinforcing social stratification, cultural and linguistic
assimilation, and the erasure of Indigenous peoples (Lomawaima, 1999; Wiley, 2000).

A critical lesson from this historical tension is that educational systems must be intentional
in designing and implementing practices and structures with an explicit and ongoing focus
on equity and achieving social justice, which is, at a minimum, concerned with questions of
redistribution, recognition, and participation. Although this reasoning reflects a seemingly
straightforward logic, it represents a monumental challenge due in part to the intricacies
embedded in complex concepts such as justice. For instance, some conceptions of justice
emphasize individual rights while others focus on collective rights, and distinctions have
also been made between corrective and distributive justice. The latter has had a major
influence in deliberations and efforts to advance justice through the allocation of resources
among groups—i.e., the “morally proper distribution of social benefits and burdens
among society’s members” (Young, 1990, p. 16). The focus is on the ways resources and
opportunities are distributed to determine the most equitable allocation patterns (e.g.,
high-quality teachers, rigorous curricular materials or course offerings, adequate facilities,
funding, extracurricular opportunities) (Carter & Welner, 2013; Darling-Hammond &
Darling-Hammond, 2022). Framing equity in relation to access is necessary, but it alone is
insufficient for achieving just educational systems that contribute to collective well-being
and equitable societies. Distributive models concentrate on end-state patterns (e.g., school
racial segregation) often at the expense of attention to the precursors that formed such
inequities (e.g., structural determinants, unconscious biases, organizational contexts,
administrative processes) (Artiles, 2011, 2019; Young, 1990).

In this volume, we are interested in scholarship that wrestles with these and other
ambiguities, paradoxes, and tensions of educational equity. We are interested in
scholarly work that provides critical perspectives on educational equity, wrestling with
the ambiguities, paradoxes, and tensions associated with its conceptualization and its
historical and everyday applications. We aim to explore how education systems might move
to create policies and paradigms that support thriving and justice during formal schooling
and other learning spaces across the lifespan and across domains, with attention to both
individual and collective well-being and thriving. Such exploration includes raising questions
about the characteristics of equitable humanizing systems that cultivate collective thriving,
and interrogates theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of justice and its potential
tensions and ambiguities, including how we understand community, equity, and potential,
and do so to craft new directions forward.

Increasingly, research in education and in the health sciences has focused on thriving
(Cantor & Osher, 2021; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, & Medicine,
2019; Shonkoff, 2017). This work has called attention to embedded systemic inequities
(Bornstein et al., 2003; Huston & Bentley, 2009; Osher et al., 2018; Spencer et al., 2019)
and to persistent structural barriers and dilemmas faced by children, youth, and families
in marginalized communities (Gadsden, 2017). Thriving is especially difficult to achieve
within educational, social, and legal systems, and this challenge is exacerbated by lack of
adequate attention to the continued harm created by institutionalized racism, colonialism,
ecological precarity, and systemic fragmentation. New and expansive frameworks and
research are needed that move past individualistic definitions of thriving and highlight
the possibilities for youth, families, and communities. We need to embrace our collective
imagination to create equitable systems that honor the whole person as well as community
needs, values, and desires (Tuck, 2009).

Our focus in this volume is on the ways that systems and practices can be used to promote
and ensure pathways for thriving. Whether and how youth thrive relies at least on how
education systems structure access to learning opportunities and meaningful participation
(e.g., Horsford et al., 2018; Lee et al., 2021; Malin et al., 2020 ); how community and family
knowledge and resources are respected and engaged (e.g., Baker at al., 2016; Ishimaru,
2019;) and how multiple ways of knowing, thinking, and being are nurtured (e.g., Bang &
Medin, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 2021;). This requires understanding and addressing, at a
minimum, the embedded nature of racial inequality in the everyday lives of students and
families and its mediating influence in the creation of educational inequalities (Darling-
Hammond et al., 2019; Nasir, Lee, Pea, & McKinney de Royston, 2020). In short, we are
interested in equity paradigms that push the traditional boundaries of justice visions and
have the potential to promote a more rigorous notion of thriving, one that takes seriously
the foundational paradigms that have created generational inequalities but are more than
critical responses to them.

For this volume, we invite papers that focus on the different ways in which we
conceptualize equity to formulate a robust multifaceted definition and advance policies
and practices that build capacities of the institutions, families, and communities in which
children and youth are located. While we expect proposed papers might focus on a range
of topics, we are asking each paper to wrestle with what we view as enduring tensions,
described below, that have challenged scholarship on equity and justice:
• The first is the tension between “good intentions” or the impulse to promote positive change and solutions alongside the longstanding persistence of theoretical and empirical frames that narrowly emphasize “broken” children, families, and communities. This tension requires us to move beyond deficit frames that still permeate theories and methods in our disciplines; to view young people, families, and communities as whole and fully human; and then to consider how to address their needs by building on the strengths, resilience, and values that are already
there in order to create systems that support thriving within and across communities.
The challenge here is to hold ourselves accountable not just for our intentions but also
for the ultimate impact of our work, both with respect to how systems use our work
and in relation to how our work disrupts or perpetuates deficit ideologies that feed
problematic constructions of communities.

• The second is the tension between a view of justice that is rooted in an
individualistic sensibility in contrast to a focus on collective well-being or
thriving. Rogoff (2003) has written about how our scholarship often serves to bring
into view only one of many possible lenses one could view a situation or learning
environment with. This tension highlights the tradition in education research that sees
equity or justice as equivalent to each child having their rights honored, rather than
all of the young people and their communities thriving collectively. When we shift the
lens, the tenor of the conversation and the possible solutions also shift. Addressing this
tension asks us to consider how we see the collective as more than just a collection of
individuals, and how we build the structures and systems to attend to collective well-

• The third tension, which builds from the first two, refers to intervention
efforts targeting individual students and families, as opposed to intervening
in systems that promote unwellness by utilizing policy levers, reconstructing
systems, or pursuing other theories and practices of change. The historical
tendency to focus on “fixing” individuals and families also has the unintended
consequence of reifying deficit orientations, and failing to intervene in the systems that
keep inequities in place. We invite authors to lean in on the kinds of policy levers and
systems (re)design that would support collective thriving, and the frameworks and ways
of knowing that might get us there.

• And finally, the fourth tension is the tendency to uphold disciplinary divides
versus engaging in expansive and deep interdisciplinarity. We too often
acknowledge the need for and value of interdisciplinarity in equity-driven scholarship,
and yet fail to engage systematically in interdisciplinary theorizing coupled with robust
methodological alignments. And yet, achieving robust interdisciplinarity is necessary
for the kinds of rethinking of equity problems and their potential solutions that match
the scale of challenges that we are facing (e.g., Warren et al., 2020). Engaging this
tension requires a clear understanding of what counts as interdisciplinarity, a critical
engagement with the genealogy of ideas that are integrated in interdisciplinary
frameworks, and an awareness of the implications of interdisciplinary ideas for
methodologies, as well as the ethical and historical demands of interdisciplinary work.

These tensions sit at the heart of scholarship on equity and justice in education, and
we must wrestle with them in order to make true progress toward building systems that
cultivate collective thriving. We name them explicitly because when we do not, we fall into
default ways of thinking, analyzing, and conceptualizing new possibilities with respect to
equitable and just systems in education. Generating fresh perspectives, with the potential
to support deep system transformation, will require us to take up these tensions, perhaps
reframe them in alternative or novel ways to gain clarity and push beyond our current
boundaries of thought and action. The complexities raised by these tensions are and will
remain central to the work of creating equitable education systems. The invitation in this
call is thus for us to think together at the edges of the education field. In other words, there
is no new brand of equity work that will provide a short-cut out of doing the hard work of
interrogating our field, our past, and our complicity in reproducing inequities again and

We invite papers that directly address one or more of these tensions, and that do so while
taking up a historical or contemporary research problem in policy or practice that has
implications for creating equitable education and learning systems that foster thriving.
Examples might include interdisciplinary conceptual or empirical manuscripts addressing
urgent and complex topics such as:

• Taking up our very definitions of equity, and tracing them over time, examining the
philosophical underpinnings of the ways we conceptualize, measure, and imagine equity
to inform solutions or reforms;
• Examining work on the future of ability differences and racial justice and utilizing an
interdisciplinary lens to explore the tensions between individual rights and collective
thriving, and offering a model to guide future research and systems design;
• Considering equity in education in the context of a changing climate, highlighting the
ways in which our deficit notions of families and communities have led to environmental
injustice, and offering a way to re-conceptualize the intertwined fate of communities to
achieve collective thriving;
• Exploring the role of big data and/or data science to support new lines of research on
equitable systems for thriving, examining the ways in which the current wave of attention
to setting up massive data systems runs the risk of leaning into reductive paradigms
and reproducing past inequities, and considering the properties of expansive new data
systems that provide a different possible directions forward;
• Reconsidering the “reading or other curricular wars” through an equity lens that puts
the public debates into historical context, that offers evidence about what we have
learned, and crafting a direction forward that reimagines the kinds of readers or learners
we want to have, and how we might get there;
• Employing a comparative lens to explore the nature of inequities and the building of
equity systems for thriving across geographic contexts and developmental domains.
These are just examples—we invite scholars to bring their creativity, and expansive and
interdisciplinary thinking, to reimagine new kinds of education and learning systems
that cultivate thriving within and across communities.

The focus of the volume both calls upon existing paradigms of equity and urges new
theoretical and analytic perspectives on transformative approaches to learning and
development in schools and other educational contexts. The present is an especially
important historical moment—i.e., within the mounting challenges to equity, learning,
and schooling—in which to address these longstanding issues and direct energies toward
change. Authors are encouraged to draw on conceptualizations of equity that
embrace the potential for transformation in the present moment, and to engage
our collective imaginations towards more ambitious futures. We invite teams
that can draw on knowledge across disciplines, that embrace the challenges of building
critical epistemic cultures in education, that weigh the possibilities of different types of
methodologies, that propose dynamic models and analytical methods, and that integrate
the voices of children, youth, families, and communities.

The editorial team will review proposals and invite authors to prepare manuscripts based
on the overall objectives of the volume and the promise of each proposed work. Proposals
are due by January 15, 2024. The authors who are invited to submit manuscripts will
be notified by March 28, 2024, and will be expected to submit final manuscripts for peer
review no later than August 15, 2024, to allow for publication in the spring of 2025.
Invited manuscripts will be subject to blind review.

Proposals for manuscripts should not exceed 1,000 words and should be submitted to All inquiries should be directed to RREeditor@aera.
net. Final manuscripts may not exceed 10,000 words (exclusive of references and figures).
Authors will also be expected to include in the AERA-RRE repository a detailed description
of the methods and procedures underlying their literature searches and a specification of
the relevant literatures that forms the basis for the analysis in the article.

Vivian Gadsden (General Editor)
David Osher (General Editor)
Megan Bang (Editor, Volume 2025)
Alfredo J. Artiles (Editor, Volume 2025)
Na’ilah Suad Nasir (Editor, Volume 2025)


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