Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



This study asks 1) What is the relationship between art, creativity, and social justice? 2) How do the theories of John Dewey, Maxine Greene, and Jane Piirto inform our understanding of this relationship? 3) What is the role of the arts in contemporary curriculum? To answer these questions, the study chronicled the various roles of art in Western society, from Classical Greece through the present day, before exploring the aesthetic theories of Dewey, Greene, and Piirto. The findings suggest that the absence of an arts-integrated curriculum in most American public schools does not imply the absence of art programs in society. To the contrary, communities provide numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the making of art. The existence and number of these non-school experiences demonstrate that the community does place importance on the arts—a direct contrast from the dominant philosophies of aesthetics and education. These communal acts of making art—acts of making democracy, at times—are frequently self-generating. That is, no formal sanctioning of art by the school as an institution is necessary for democratic acts of art to occur. While the philosophies of Dewey and Greene require one to possess conscious intent and engage in reflection to make meaningful, socially just art, these findings imply that art may also be enacted bodily, without the presence of mental reasoning. The author offers the term “intuitive presence” to describe this participation in community for the purpose of artistic creation and human understanding, to complement Greene’s theory of “wide-awakeness.” The study compels researchers to revisit our current interpretation of an aesthetic experience, to assess what art should be included in curriculum, and to broaden our explanation of how art for social justice is created.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Hendry, Petra



Included in

Education Commons