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Social Justice Studies Course Descriptions

SJS 101 Understanding Social Justice and Human Struggle.  (3) A.   Explores the concepts of justice, conflict and social change and examines the ways in which political, economic, media, education, and other institutions create challenges for justice. Also examines efforts to resist existing structural and institutional arrangements and encourage social change to better meet human needs.

SJS 250S  Service Learning in Social Justice Studies. (3) A. Prerequisite: SJS 101. Students will engage in classroom and service activities to explore, critique, and apply the fundamental concepts of justice, conflict, and social change.  Through experiential learning and reflective writing, students will begin integrating ideas and perspectives, formulating personal ideologies, and developing an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

SJS 301 Theories of Social Justice. (3) A.  Prerequisites: sophomore standing, SJS 101, and SJS 250S.  Examines social theories of justice, conflict and social change. This includes engagement with Marxist, Postcolonial, Postmodern, Poststructuralist, Critical Race, Feminist, and Queer theories. As the SJS major is dedicated to foundations in and accountability to grassroots knowledge and power, this course will consistently locate theory in concrete examples.

SJS 313 Mobilizing for Social Justice. (3) A. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101. Examines the broad concept of social change through explorations of different social movements, individual actors, and various policies. The course considers strategies for change including activism, advocacy, assistance, and community organizing and looks at change on a continuum of levels, from grassroots campaigns to international diplomacy and policy work.

SJS 322 Social Justice and Media. (3) A. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101. Examines the cultural, economic, and political dynamics of struggles for social justice through a mediated lens. Although the media provides useful information helping us understand conflict within society, it also creates the context that influences audience perceptions of people/events.  This social construction influences how we perceive equality, justice, and fairness.

SJS 325 Social Justice and Film. (3) A. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101. Examines issues of justice, conflict, and social change through the lens of documentary and popular films and videos. Students are required to view, analyze, discuss, and critique themes and lessons garnered through their viewing experiences and assess how their experiences contribute to their understanding of justice, conflict, and social change.

SJS 396 Researching and Writing for Change. (3) A.  Prerequisites: sophomore standing, SJS 101, and SJS 250S.  Examines the mutual importance and intertwined nature of social research and writing in struggles for social change and justice.  The course will consider the importance of quantitative and qualitative research and diverse writing formats such as academic scholarship, journalism, polemics, cultural critique, advocacy, and grant-writing in addressing injustice and conflict.

SJS 401 Conflict, Resistance, and Nonviolent Struggle. (3) A.  Pre-requisites: sophomore standing, SJS 101, and SJS 301. Course examines various responses to conflict and focuses on the use of nonviolent strategies as a means to overcome oppression. Examples of nonviolent struggle around the world are assessed and students are required to complete a field experience where they consider the application of effective nonviolent strategies.

SJS 450S Learning through Civic Engagement. (3) A.  Prerequisites: sophomore standing,  SJS 101, and SJS 250S.  Working collaboratively with faculty, peers, and/or community representatives, students will analyze a social problem.  They will enhance competencies essential to the helping, advocacy, community organization and activist roles necessary for social change.  Students will prepare written and oral presentations that reflect their understanding of justice, conflict, and social change.

SJS 467 States of Violence. (3)A. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101. Examines the relations among state regimes and their application of violence in historical and contemporary contexts.  Consideration will be given to the ways state institutions such as the military, police, prisons, and welfare often exercise violence and threats thereof in struggles over justice.  Alternatives to state violence will be discussed.

SJS 470 Critical Carceral Studies. (3) A. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101. Examines the historical, theoretical, and political development of ‘carcerality’, including technologies of punishment, coercion, surveillance, and control. This class examines the rise of the prison industrial complex in the United States and its effects on oppressed communities.

SJS 480 Ethnography for Social Change. (3) A.  Pre-requisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101 and SJS 301 and SJS 396.  An advanced methods class, this course examines the use of ethnography to achieve greater understandings of, and contributions toward, social change. Readings may include studies of power and resistance in Appalachia, the homeless in San Francisco, the use of state violence in the repression of dissent, and other important works.

SJS 490 Identity, Culture, and Power. (3) A. Pre-requisites: sophomore standing and SJS 101 and SJS 301 and SJS 313. Examines culture as a contested site of power relations. Looking at media, economics, education, law and other areas of cultural (re)production, this class explores the diverse and even clandestine ways that power operates and that subordinated populations resist.

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