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Keywords:

  • academic duty;
  • academic freedom;
  • nursing education;
  • public health nursing;
  • social justice

ABSTRACT Public health nursing practice is rooted in the core value of social justice. Nursing faculty whose expertise is in public health are often the content experts responsible for teaching this essential, yet potentially controversial, value. Contemporary threats to academic freedom remind us that the disciplinary autonomy and academic duty to teach social justice may be construed as politically ideological. These threats are of particular concern when faculty members guide students through a scientific exploration of sociopolitical factors that lead to health-related social injustices and encourage students to improve and transform injustices in their professional careers. This article (a) reviews recent challenges to academic freedom that influence social justice education, (b) explores academic freedom and duty to teach social justice within the discipline of nursing, and (c) proposes a praxis-based approach to social justice education, which is grounded in transformative pedagogy.