Musicking Equity: Enacting Social Justice through Music Education

New Directions Conference to explore role of music education in activism.

The New Directions in Music Education conference examines emerging trends in music education. The 2017 conference will focus on social justice and civic engagement.
The conference will be held on the Michigan State University campus, February 16–18, 2017 and will include 70 presenters.

The role of music education in a world challenged by complex global and societal issues will be the topic of a long-standing conference for music educators Feb. 16-18, 2017, at Michigan State University.

Through the theme “Musicking Equity: Enacting Social Justice through Music Education,” the 2017 New Directions in Music Education Conference will invite participants to reflect on how the profession can influence activism, civic engagement, and resistance to injustices.

Conference Coordinator Juliet Hess is among MSU faculty from the Music Education area organizing the conference. She says that while the 2017 topic is different from previous years, the tone conforms to what New Directions has always intended.

“New Directions has consistently been about pushing music education forward in ways that are both thoughtful and provocative,” says Hess, an MSU assistant professor of music education. “Over the years, the conference has provided meaningful opportunities for generative conversation about particular areas of music education. Topics reflect current conversations in the discipline and provide space for all levels of music educators to gather and discuss issues important to the field.”

Hess says conference organizers anticipate about 150 attendees from across the U.S., as well as 70 presenters—including one from Brazil and several from Canada. Keynote speakers include Dorinda Carter Andrews from the MSU College of Education and Randall Allsup from Teachers College at Columbia University. Presenters will focus on how music education might matter against the backdrop of a tumultuous national and global context that sometimes consists of violence that targets particular populations.

“This year’s conference focuses on social justice explicitly and the possibility of activism within music education,” says Hess. “Given recent political events, the conference will be an opportunity to consider how to best serve the different populations engaged in music education.”

Musicking Equity: Enacting Social Justice through Music Education

The 2017 New Directions in Music Education Conference will be held Feb. 16-18 at Michigan State University. Since 1997, the New Directions conference has examined emerging trends in music education. The conference has offered a way for music teachers and scholars to keep up with the latest advances in music technology, methods and research, as well as new ways to  teach composition, improvisation, music technology and performance. This year, the three-day conference held on the MSU campus will feature presentations and clinics that explore enacting social justice work through different facets of music education. Designed for teachers in elementary, middle school and high schools, as well as collegiate faculty and students, the conference provides a stimulating environment to share and learn the latest scholarly advances and best teaching practices from some of the world’s foremost teachers, researchers and musicians. For additional information visit the conference web page, or contact Juliet Hess at

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