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Minor in Social Justice


Social justice refers to fair and equitable institutions, laws, markets, practices, and social relationships.  It allows all of us to participate fully in and contribute to our communities and to realize our full potential as citizens and human beings.  Issues of social justice affect educational and employment access and outcomes, health and welfare, everyday living and the general well being of our society. This minor invites you to investigate and reflect on the history and current state of social justice, on social relations as affected by race and ethnicity, economic class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, and other forms of diversity.  It will help you to recognize and address persistent inequities detrimental to the overall quality of life of this increasingly diverse US society of the 21st century, and thus gives you the potential to contribute directly to the realization of social justice. 

Why Minor in Social Justice?

Let’s face it.  Our world is changing.  Increasingly we are a global society with ties to peoples and places that reflect our many similarities and differences.  But our world is not a fair one.

The quest for justice has been elusive.  Histories and quality of life vary by our differences such as race and ethnicity, gender expressions and sexuality, ability and religion, economic status and level of education, among others.  Nonetheless, justice and fairness are not impossible.  As the Department of American Studies, we are obligated to provide students, like you, with an opportunity to learn about fairness so that you may fully consider how and in what ways you may contribute to building a better tomorrow.

This is not an abstract mission.  Your understanding of past and current issues of justice and inequality are critical as you prepare for work and life beyond your bachelor’s degree and in this increasingly diverse society.

Who will benefit from the Social Justice Minor?

This minor will complement undergraduate majors in the professional schools and all divisions of the College, from the traditional disciplines such as history, sociology and geography to interdisciplinary majors such as human biology, African and African American studies, and women, gender, and sexuality studies, business management, education, and social work—to name just a few.

The minor will allow you to diversify and enhance your profile for a wide range of specialized private and public sector positions, whether you proceed directly into the workforce upon graduation or pursue advanced degrees leading to careers in government, education, business, public service, law, medicine, or emerging areas of research.  Regardless of the area you choose, you will be served well by the Social Justice Minor.

What skills and knowledge will I gain?

You will:

Develop the analytical and communication skills so that you are able to offer informed and practical contributions to your workplace policies and practices.

Develop the intellectual foundation to contribute to and thus to the creation of a just and fair society.

Understand how inequality works as a persistent part of our social fabric rather than merely as a matter of prejudice and misunderstanding.

Be a better informed citizen and participant in both your work and living communities.

Better understand and be able to explain structural inequities and injustices related to race/ethnicity, gender and sexuality, economic class, institutional barriers, and other aspects of diversity in the U.S. and transnationally. 

Understand ways various groups of activists and organizers have worked to democratize society more fully and realize the meanings of citizenship and freedom.

Apply your knowledge to real life issues of social justice and fairness. 

  • Listen to Margaret Kelley discuss it's not just fear of violence or belief in the second amendment and gun rights prompting gun ownership.  On this episode of WhenExpertsAttack she explains that concerns about Armageddon and "supernatural" evil also are at play.  
  • Congratulations to Bobby Cervantes for being awarded the Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies!
  • Read about Afro-Puerto Rican illustrator Eric Velasquez in this piece written by William García-Medina for Teaching For Change.
  • Geoffrey Newman did a podcast for the journal Kansas History that was broadcast on 91.9 KSDB-FM.  It is available online here.
  • Congratulations to Sam Steuart for being named KU's 20th Truman scholar!
  • This article, written by Geoffrey Newman, was published in the August edition of the Kansas History Journal. Congratulations Geoffrey!
  • Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Kathryn Vaggalis for being awarded the American Studies Association's 2018 Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize!
  • KU-AUMI InterArts was recently featured by the Commons in a video on improving inclusive communities at KU. You can watch the video, which features our own Sherrie Tucker amongst other founders of the movement at KU, and learn more about AUMI here!
  • Congratulations to Professor Robert Warrior on being elected to a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • This articlewritten by Ph.D. candidate Hannah Bailey, was published in the latest edition of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Congratulations, Hannah!
  • We would like to recognize Patrick Sumner, 2005 alumni, for his work in this article about the defacement of the John Brown memorial in the Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Please read this article about Professor Robert Warrior titled: Native scholar uncomfortably at home in American studies field.
  • Congratulations to Daniel Carey-Whalen, an alumni that was recently promoted as UTEP's Centennial Museum director.
  • Congratulations to Josh Parshall, an alumni who was recently featured in this article.
  • How a motion-tracking musical software is breaking down barriers for people with disabilities: click here to read more about the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), a one-of-a-kind piece of inclusive technology that promotes musical improvisation. The article recognizes Professor Sherrie Tucker, who started AUMI jam sessions and helped to bring the grant and symposium for it to Lawrence. Written by Omar Sanchez
  • KU Special Education Department: With Ray Pence
  • Tribute Or Tribulation? How do we commemorate history? What is the best way to remember a conflicted and painful past? And who gets to decide? Listen here »
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