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Existing research suggests that preservice elementary teachers tend to believe “good” citizens are people who follow laws and help others rather than people who embrace a more active model of citizenship that includes working to improve society. The authors propose that this trend results from a self-perpetuating cycle of passive citizenship that develops in part due to state curriculum standards and school experiences which focus on transmitting knowledge rather than preparing students to be active agents of change. The article presents the results of action research conducted in a teacher preparation course; the research was designed to investigate the impact of a systematic effort to see if preservice teachers’ perspectives could be broadened to include a social justice perspective. As a result of the findings, the authors argue that to counteract the cycle of passive citizenship, education to create a more socially just world must be a collective responsibility shared by teachers at all levels, K-16.

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This article is (c)2017 Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here ( Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited. doi: 10.1108/SSRP-03-2017-0007