2022 AAHHE National Conference Conference Theme

Cultivating Justicia con Amor y Querencia: Embracing Healing through Policies and Practices that Transform Institutions for Latinx/a/o Communities

Cultivando Justicia con Amor y Querencia: Sanando las Comunidades Latinx con Políticas y Prácticas que Transforman las Instituciones

Latinx/a/o communities navigate continuous intersectional injustices that influence the pathways to and through higher education. While postsecondary institutions have recently adopted practices that strive to highlight issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, partly in response to these injustices, the AAHHE 2022 conference builds upon those important initial steps by moving the Latinx/a/o higher education agenda toward justice-centered policies, practices and institutions situated in amor (love) and querencia (intentional care)

For the past 17 years, AAHHE has addressed both obstacles faced and strategies enacted by Latinx/a/o communities within the field of higher education. The 2022 AAHHE conference theme builds upon last year’s conference of “Sembrando Semillas (Planting Seeds)” by focusing on: Cultivating Justicia con Amor y Querencia: Embracing Healing through Policies and Practices that Transform Institutions for Latinx/a/o Communities. The 2022 conference theme provides AAHHE and its members the opportunity to build on last year’s conference efforts to reflect and re-envision higher education by taking action through justice-oriented healing policies and practices that transform higher education by centering amor and querencia

With the conference theme and strands, we continue to confront the intersectional oppressions that marginalize and oppress Black, Indigenous, Latinx/a/o, and Asian American Pacific Islander communities. AAHHE’s 2022 Conference Planning Committee has purposefully designed this year’s conference to focus on actions that center justice, love, querencia, and healing in Latinx/a/o communities in higher education. 

Given the continued intersectional injustices experienced by Latinx/a/o communities, we place the notion of justice at the center of the 2022 conference. When referring to justice, we draw on the scholarship of critical race scholars who frame social justice as an “interruption to the status quo of substandard education for low-income/working-class Black and Latina/o students” (Stovall, 2016, p. 14). Leading with justice is an expressively different framework from diversity and inclusion because it provokes education practitioners and leaders to think about the systemic obstacles to access, engagement, and achievement at the forefront of our work and how we can transform our institutions to excavate and eliminate these barriers (Truong & Martinez, 2021). We invite conference proposals that are rooted in asset-based perspectives and showcase various approaches to justice-oriented work in higher education.

Informed by Black feminist writer bell hooks, we note that justice-oriented work must be conducted with amor (love) because “love will move us away from domination in all its forms” (hooks, 2003, p. 137). While academia is traditionally devoid of amor (Matias & Lee Allen, 2016), as we know that reality often positions faculty and staff “not only as educators, but as emotional laborers” (Gonzales & Ayers, 2018, p. 471). Therefore, we center the concept of humanizing love in education, as conceptualized by Matias and Allen (2016) as “care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust” (p. 14). More recently, love is centered by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza who aims to “transform grief and despair and rage into the love that we need to push us forward” (2021, p. 289). We invite proposals that define the way in which amor is integrated in policy and practices that promote justice oriented engagement supporting the Latinx/a/o community.

We maintain that justice is possible for Latinx/a/o communities when both amor and querencia are present in the enacted policies and practices in higher education. While a quick Google search will provide a misguided notion of querencia, we define querencia as “a place where one feels safe, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, where one feels home” (Arellano, 2007, p. 50). We invite proposals that exemplify policies and practices enacted in higher education that build on sense of belonging in higher education (Hurtado & Carter, 1997) to foster querencia to inform identity, provide a place of belonging, and sense of safety (Savoian, 2018) for Latinx/a/o students, faculty, and staff.

Our hope is that by striving for justice through amor and querencia, higher education leaders will enact policies and practices that move beyond coping with injustices (French, et al., 2020) and instead offer healing moments for Latinx/a/o communities. We ask that with your proposals you to consider the various aspects of personal and communal healing such as the social, emotional, physical and spiritual elements. Informed by “liberation psychology, Black psychology, ethnopolitical psychology, and intersectionality theory,” we call for radical healing “grounded in five anchors including: (a) collectivism, (b) critical consciousness, (c) radical hope, (d) strength and resistance, and (e) cultural authenticity and self-knowledge” (French, et al., 2020, p. 14).We invite proposals that transform the landscape of higher education and demonstrate institutional efforts that foster healing and empowerment for Latinx/a/o communities. More specifically, we prioritize proposals that address the following five strands in line with the 2022 conference theme:


Arellano, J., E. (2007). Taos: Where two cultures met four hundred years ago. Seattle: Grantmakers in the Arts.

Crenshaw, K. W. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 140, 139–167.

French, B. H., Lewis, J. A., Mosley, D. V., Adames, H. Y., Chavez-Dueñas, N. Y., Chen, G. A., & Neville, H. A. (2020). Toward a psychological framework of radical healing in communities of color. The Counseling Psychologist48(1), 14-46.

Garza, A. (2020). The purpose of power: How we come together when we fall apart. One World.

Gonzales, L. D., & Ayers, D. F. (2018). The convergence of institutional logics on the community college sector and the normalization of emotional labor: A new theoretical approach for considering the community college faculty labor expectations. The Review of Higher Education41(3), 455-478.

Hooks, B. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope (Vol. 36). Psychology Press.

Matias, C. E., & Allen, R. L. (2016). Do you feel me? Amplifying messages of love in critical race theory. The Journal of Educational Foundations29(1-4), 5-28.

Savoian, S. (2018). Querencia. Summit to Salish Sea: Inquiries and Essays3(1), 10.

Stovall, D. O. (2016). Born out of struggle: Critical race theory, school creation, and the politics of interruption. SUNY press.

Truong, K., A. (April, 2021). From DEI to JEDI. Diverse Education. https://diverseeducation.com/article/211514/.