1st Edition

Educational Leadership for Transformation and Social Justice
Narratives of change in South Africa

ISBN 9781138923539
Published November 8, 2016 by Routledge
160 Pages

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Educational Leadership for Transformation and Social Justice examines the relationship between the lived experiences of educational leaders at the University of the Free State in South Africa and how they think about and practice leadership for transformation and social justice. Based on biographical information, public speeches, published writings, and in-depth semi-structured face-to-face interviews, the book presents and analyses seven chapter-length narratives of these leaders.

This book explores how some leaders at the University of the Free State – from the vantage point of various racialized and gendered identities, and generational experiences – conceptualize and enact leadership for transformation and social justice. Ambrosio argues that there are certain values, beliefs, concepts, principles, and ways of thinking that cut across their experiences and demographic differences. The narratives are presented in the leaders’ own words, and describe how their lived experiences shaped their values and identities, and inform how they think about and practice leadership for transformation and social justice. One convergence that emerged among these leaders is that their leadership is an extension of who they are, of their core values, identities and ethical commitments. Another is that they are motivated by visions of change that go beyond the University; by bigger dreams that infuse their work with meaning and purpose.

With its in-depth analysis of the narratives, this book will provide educational leaders who have an orientation towards transformation and social justice with insights that enable them to think differently about how to make the policies, programs, and institutional culture of their own universities more equitable and just. It will appeal to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of education, educational justice, higher education, educational leadership and change, social justice and racial justice.

Table of Contents


1. What is Educational Leadership for Transformation and Social Justice?

2. Jonathan Jansen: The Soft Revolution: Embracing the Better Versions of Ourselves

3. M.G. Sechaba Mahlomaholo: The Question of Fairness: Creating Opportunities to Succeed

4. B.R. Rudi Buys: Something Much Bigger: Doing What is Good and What is Right

5. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela: Repairing the Brokenness of the Past: Working Through the Unfinished Business of Trauma

6. André Keet: There is Nobody Innocent Here: Shared Complicity and the Sharp Edge of Social Justice

7. Lis Lange: Transformation as an Intellectual and Ethical Project: Changing Inherited Patterns of Thought and Social Practice

8. John Samuel: A New Hope: Believing in a Fairer, More Decent, and More Humane Society

9. A Bigger Dream: Visions of Educational Leadership for Transformation and Social Justice in South Africa

View More



John Ambrosio is Associate Professor of Social Foundations in the Department of Educational Studies at Ball State University. He received a Core Fulbright Scholar Program grant to work with colleagues in the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State in South Africa. Dr. Ambrosio’s most recent publication, co-authored with Adré le Roux and Percy Mdunge, is "Re-visioning teacher education for social justice in post-apartheid South Africa."


‘At last a book that examines leadership from a completely new perspective as messy, conflicted, emotive, political, spiritual and ethical; in other words, leadership that at its core is a deeply human endeavour which is at once vulnerable and transformative, broken and just.

Too many books on the subject are neat-and-tidy accounts of six or seven steps to effective management or authentic leadership. The picture of leadership that emerges from these many popular and even academic texts present leaders is one of firm and decisive agents who are always clear, determined and precise in how they do their work.

These ground breaking case studies of real leaders on a deeply divided campus in a highly unequal country hold intellectual as well as practical significance for the problem of leadership, anywhere. Leadership, in such contexts, is as much about reparation as it is about reconciliation, about hurt as well as hope. This book must be required reading for those who lead, or study leadership, in difficult contexts.’

Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor and Rector, University of the Free State, South Africa

‘The one thing which struck me most in this text about Educational Leadership is the challenge the seven University of the Free State leaders make to all of us to self-reflect. They come at it from different ideological perspectives  but make clear how in conflict environments which operate on simplistic binary positions – particularly that of white versus black – one needs to be aware of the complex ways in which many of us are complicit in the production and reproduction of inequality. This book is not a manual for how leaders should lead but it insists that they should demonstrate deep educatedness – self-awareness – in everything that they do. In the current South African conjuncture of suspicion and animosity, I would like to suggest, this is the first requirement the leader must impose on him or herself.’

Crain Soudien, Chief Executive Officer, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa

‘This book is a "must-read" for anyone interested in leadership for social justice in South Africa and other post-conflict societies. Its approach is not only unique, but totally engaging as it presents chapter long profiles of leaders whose personal stories are both compelling and inspiring. These profiles clearly demonstrate the contextual nature of social justice work, the personal toll it takes on those who practice it, and the deep commitments required to effect change. You will resonate deeply with their stories, perhaps even cry with them, celebrate their successes, and leave, more determined to effect change in your own context.’

Carolyn Shields, Professor, College of Education, Wayne State University, USA