Social Justice and Human Rights

Co-principal Investigators: Jennifer Brier, associate professor and director of gender and women’s studies and associate professor of history; and Anna Guevarra, associate professor and director of Asian American studies and affiliated faculty in gender and women’s studies and sociology

In its attempt to meld theory and practice, the field of social justice and human rights studies has been informed by, and emerges out of, the work of scholars in a range of interdisciplinary fields and more traditional disciplines including gender and ethnic studies, as well as sociology, anthropology, philosophy and art.

This field and the Social Justice and Human Rights cluster insist on bringing the arts and humanities into conversation with social sciences and public policy to ask, and begin to answer, a set of questions about how contemporary politics and culture have come to often be based in inequalities, how individuals, states, non-profit organizations, and members of civil society have struggled to make those local and global institutions more just and equitable, and how economic and distributive justice can be achieved alongside racial and gender justice.

One of the basic principles of social justice studies is how to address, analyze and repair disparities, not only in terms of services and access to resources, but also in terms of power and cultural capital. In its theoretical and practical breadth, the field of social justice and human rights studies seeks models for addressing and eliminating embedded and intersecting inequalities through public policy analysis, histories of social movements, ethnographies of subjugated or oppressed communities, artistic production and theoretical work about the constitution of structural inequalities.It also centers on the notion that people experiencing structural inequality have the capacity to act as agents of change in their own lives and communities. In insisting that community disparities must always be understood in relation to notions of resilience, the Social Justice and Human Rights cluster seeks to define new directions in engaged urban scholarship.

New faculty hires in the Social Justice and Human Rights cluster will feature scholars with research concentrations in the areas of intersectional feminism and critical praxis; public arts, media and culture; indigenous studies; theories of justice; and political economy and globalization.

Initiative Hire(s): Laurie Jo Reynolds, assistant professor of art and art history (Spring 2015)