Social Justice Courses

As part of Southern’s commitment to social justice, faculty have been considering ways curriculum takes up fostering a deeper understanding of oppression, domination, and inequality and prepares students to work towards a society that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

SCSU's Social Justice logo. Awareness. Knowledge. Action


The following courses have been submitted by faculty as highlighting issues of racial and/or intersectional justice as a significant part of the course.

Social Justice Courses
Summer and Fall 2021

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This course is focused on political and cultural issues in contemporary Native America. We contextualize issues like gender, sovereignty, health and wellness, race and ethnicity, sexuality, and stereotyped media perceptions through the lenses of history and politics. Ultimately the goal of this course is to raise student awareness about how Indigenous people in North America live their lives today, rather than in an imagined and romanticized past.

CSC/PHI 324 focuses on the humanitarian, social, and ethical impact of emerging information technologies. The course explicitly addresses racial and intersectional justice through discussions about privacy and surveillance; the value of diversity, equity & inclusion; the power and peril of artificial intelligence; and the ways in which algorithms can exacerbate implicit and explicit bias by filtering information.

This course focuses on critical social justice concepts. Students learn how social constructs (i.e. disability, race, gender, and socio-economic status) relate to the field of communication disorders, education, and other health professions. Topics addressed include culture and socialization, prejudice and discrimination, and various forms of oppression (e.g. racism, ableism, sexism). Students engage in ongoing self-reflection about contributions to injustice (e.g. privilege and implicit bias) and discuss strategies to foster equity and inclusion across a variety of settings.

This course covers psychological testing theory, clinical and practical aspects of individual test administration, educational and clinical diagnosis, interpretation, and non-discriminatory and controversial issues in testing. Focus on the racist underpinnings of the development of psychological and IQ testing, eugenics and race psychology.

Broad social and cultural characteristics of individuals and theories of multicultural counseling provide the course framework. Focus is on developing awareness knowledge skills, and action in social justice, as well as understanding marginalization and privilege.

We look at systemic barriers to families' participation in their children's school-based education, study teachers' biases around what it means to be an "engaged" parent, investigate diverse family backgrounds and structures, and work to develop anti-racist practices around family engagement.

This course examines the ways in which structural racism manifests in our lives, communities, and schools through historical and sociological lenses. We explore what it means to use an equity lens to examine what we teach, how we teach, and the policies in our classroom. We reimagine classroom management not as a method of control so you can get to the “curriculum” but rather as seeing social-emotional growth, self discipline, and building community as part of our curriculum and our responsibility as teachers. In the course we move through cycles of understanding the problem (i.e how does structural racism manifest in our lives and in the classroom); exploring how we as individuals are part of the system (i.e. we examine implicit bias, the impact of growing up in de facto segregated communities etc.) and lastly move on to re-imagine new ways to teach that are antiracist and anti-bias. We push back against a system of classroom management that pushes kids out, and rather re-imagine how can we bring kids in, in all the ways (through what we teach, how we teach, and the community we create in our classrooms).

We work to move from a deficit perspective to an assets-based approach in studying elementary students' personal, cultural, and community resources and funds of knowledge. Course text is Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning; students also select one anti-racist or racial justice text to read and review for the class.

The selected readings for this course explicitly focus on sexism and homophobia in the context of sex, gender and the LGBTQI+ continuum. The course also examines the intersectionality of race and class in the context of sexism and homophobia.

As the title suggests, in this course we take up issues relating to the intersections among race, gender, sexuality and ethics as applied to literary texts and other media in the domain of contemporary culture. Texts and other materials are selected based on their representation of a wide swath of contemporary sexual, gendered, racial, and ethnic communities, identities, and authors.

Through a range of literary texts ranging from short poems and short stories (including science fiction) to a novel and an illustrated graphic novel, the course explores diverse viewpoints and cultures. The readings include works by Caribbean, Hispanic, Native American, African American, and Asian-Australian authors. Through the patterns of words in story-telling, these texts grapple with such challenges as racial tensions, injustice and immigration status as well as various issues of gender, hierarchy, and marginalization.

This course focuses on graphic novel memoirs and histories that take up issues of gendered, racial, sexuality, and ethnic experiences and justice as the central focus of the class.

This course explores various literary texts that are set in cities--including Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC--during specific time frames. The authors include Latina, Native American, African American writers. A number of the assigned readings explicitly engage with issues of racial justice, survival, marginalization and resistance.

Our course theme - Interrogating & Disrupting Systems of Power Through Young Adult Literature - invites us to consider what YAL has to say about what bell hooks names “imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy.” We will also explore how YAL creates space for activism and dismantling oppressive systems, with a specific focus on contemporary issues of racism in America.

An examination of recent African-American novelists such as Morrison, Naylor, Johnson, and Wideman, with particular emphasis on emerging writers.

The study of the ways Western nations (referred to as “First World” countries) conquered and controlled the inappropriately titled “Third World” nations, and how the latter have responded to and resisted those encroachments. Post-colonialism, as both a body of theory and a study of political and cultural change, has gone and continues to go through three broad stages: 1. an initial awareness of the social, psychological, and cultural inferiority enforced by being in a colonized state; 2. the struggle for ethnic, cultural, and political autonomy; 3. a growing awareness of cultural overlap and hybridity. This course studies the literature borne of these stages.

Motivated students who have not taken the ENG 307 prerequisite should write to Dr. Andrew Smyth, English Department Chair, at, to be considered for a registration override.

Race, class and gender are key concepts for understanding how social identities and geography are interconnected. These social categories are key factors in how inequality is produced and experienced. This course investigates how race, class, and gender are geographically dynamic constructions because they not only shape particular geographic patterns in place, like segregation, and across interpret space, but they also impact how classed, raced and gendered bodies interact in and interpret space. The current events in the U.S. make clear the necessity for students to understand how race, class, and gender operate and geography provides a powerful insight into how these constructions have created social and spatial injustices. In this course students explore in depth how race, gender and class identities shape geographic patterns and place.

By 1619 the first ship transporting black, human cargo to British North America had landed in Jamestown, Virginia. In 2021—over 400 years later—the literal and spiritual progeny of those enslaved spearheaded a vibrant movement to have recognized the humanity of black bodies when in engagement with law enforcement. Surveying the record of the last four hundred years, this course is an examination of the history, culture, and politics of the people who descend from the United States legacy of slavery, as well as others (some free, others who immigrated from elsewhere) who based on social constructions of race have been slated to share with those descendants a common fate.

Covers the racial and ethnic components of the French Colonization of the countries the are now Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and how they played into the United States becoming involved in war in Mainland Southeast Asia for well over 20 years.

These two courses cover the history of American workers from the colonial period to the present. I emphasize the fact that the folks who built this country include all genders and races, and show how their lives involve wage and nonwage work (including nonpaid housework, indentured servitude, and enslavement). These two courses emphasize how workers fought back against powerful economic elites, carving paths of independence against the evolving forces of capital. Racial and intersectional justice is essential--workers united and fought together, crossing racial and gendered boundaries to create a more equitable world.

This course explores the major issues impacting Black women in the United States, as well as their contributions to the social, cultural, political, and economic milieus of their communities and their nation. Although this is a social history course, there will be some attention given to extraordinary individuals whose lives and work elucidate that of everyday African American women. Black love and labor underscore the themes of this course.

Covers interracial/interethnic conflict, from micro-aggressions to genocide, and the causes and results of it in Colonial Era South and Southeast Asia and ends with the wars of decolonization following World War II.

This course examines the relationships between sport and other aspects of our lives. Topics include (but are not limited to): LGBT Issues, Race & Ethnic Issues, Title IX & Gender Issues, Political Issues, Athletes and Social Conflict and much more!

Investigates the experience of Italian-Americans in the U.S. through literature, art, film, and oral narratives. Students analyze Italian-American culture and identity including its intersections with issues of race, gender, and politics.

This course examines the historic and contemporary role of race in the coverage of news in America, and how America's citizens and institutions treat each other as a result of that coverage.

This course undertakes a critical study of the development/social construction of the concept of "race" as a tool for colonialism, which evolves as "race theory" in the Armenian genocide and as "biological racism" with the Nazis. Socially constructed "race theory" is seen to lead to the dehumanizing objectification of a targeted other, involving harmful stereotypes and hate speech spread through media propaganda. The course seeks to analyze "race theory," dehumanizing hate speech, and media incitement as causes of genocides. With the analyses of these causes we brainstorm about strategies for prevention, including awareness, building empathy, strategies for re-humanization. We also address the potential and failure thus far of the UN doctrine of the "responsibility to protect". Identifying the historical construction of racism creates leads to strategies for working for justice with a renewed awareness.

The course focuses on analyzing several literary works in their social context and in connection with other cultural articulations produced in Latin America—e.g. film, muralism, photography, etc. Issues discusses are totalitarianism and dictatorships in South America, GLBT and politics, as well as migration.

The purpose of this course is to provide undergraduate students with managerial and interpersonal skills to discuss issues encountered within an increasingly diverse workforce. Topics such as race, gender, national origin, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic group, and lifestyle are covered.

Jazz History explores African American culture as expressed through jazz. It discusses the lives of African American musicians from the late nineteenth century to the present. In almost every class that discussion includes racist treatment of musicians, exploitation by record companies. The course also explores ways that the musicians honored their culture and created positive and innovative artistic responses to racism. In sum, Jazz History is inherently a racial justice course.

Courses start with a definition of patriarchy as a system of oppression and dominance and the various ways it shows up in our society. We ask the question “how is patriarchy showing up here?” throughout the course. We explore issues of Reproductive Justice and rights and deal with basic definition, have content experts join class at the national level, as well as exploring policy issues and various websites and organizations doing this work. We explore and introduce racial and social justice issues through an examination of Peggy McIntosh's privilege work and examine racial reconciliation being done by youth in Boston, Ma and its relevancy in the lives of students in the course and today.

The rapidly changing social and political structures in the US and the world call for increased attention to social justice and policies that affect health and health disparities, including issues around diversity, gender, socio-economic status, geography, and access. This course will provide a framework for exploring diversity and disparities with emphasis on social justice, culturally competent care, and mediation of differences in health outcomes among diverse populations with regards to accessing quality health.

This course teaches students historical critiques of human exploitation. We read Hegel's master/slave dialectic and excerpts from Karl Marx in addition to other works.

This course will examine the origins of institutional racism and its current manifestations in the US legal system- including police violence and brutality. Finally the course will examine theories for eradicating institutional racism.

An in-depth understanding of the literacy challenges faced by Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) students is gained. Issues related to distinguishing language differences from language-based reading disabilities in CLD reading and writing will be examined. This is an upper-level graduate course with several prerequisites.

This course examines contemporary issues related to the education of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. We examine factors that contribute to or reduce discipline disparities in educational, judicial and correctional settings serving individuals with emotional and behaviors disorders. The course text is Closing the discipline gap: Equitable remedies for excessive exclusion (disability, equity and culture), by Daniel J. Losen (Editor) and Alfredo J. Artiles and Elizabeth B. Kozleski (Series Editor), published by Teachers College Press: New York, NY.

This course is divided into four sections: 1) understanding race and ethnicity; 2) The social construction of race; 3) White Privilege; and 4) Racism and Discrimination. Students learn how systemic racism functions and operates and how it impacts BIPOC in a multitude of ways.

This course covers the formation of cities and how government policy has shaped the racial landscape of communities. This course addresses racial residential segregation, the spatial patterns of metropolitan areas, and the sources of inequality in urban areas, among other topics.

The concentration of crime in disadvantaged neighborhoods is one of sociology and criminology’s most robust and enduring findings. In this course, we will seek to understand why crime and the reach of the criminal justice system are unequally distributed across places. To do so, we will examine how factors like systemic racism that creates neighborhood segregation and inequality, structure and organization, culture, and social-processes of community life relate to crime and formal and informal responses to crime. Furthermore, we will critically examine and apply sociological theories of neighborhood crime and crime control to contemporary social issues that include policing, gentrification, the Black Lives Matter movement, among others.

In this course students are provided with an overview of some of the central theoretical and thematic debates that have characterized the study of race and ethnicity within the discipline. Although the course will examine race and ethnic relations predominantly in the United States, the concepts used to interpret and understand racial and ethnic dynamics may be applicable to other geo-political settings. This course is divided into seven sections: 1) Race and Racism; 2) Slavery and The Social Construction of Race; 3) Slave Patrols and Early Law Enforcement; 4) The Great Migration and Housing Segregation; 5) Policing the Ghetto; 6) The Contemporary Police State; and 7) Mass Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex.

Intersectional examination of child and youth culture, social institutions and systems serving chidlren and youth, social control of children and youth, child and youth justice movements, and emerging adulthood. Focus on consequences of expanded surveillance, supervision, and criminalization. Emphasis on child and youth empowerment.

Social Welfare and Social Services in America explores the theories, policies, and values associated with social work practice. Knowledge regarding the impact of institutions and social context on human behavior and interactions is presented. The course content includes case studies and discussions that reflect our concern for special issues relevant to populations most vulnerable to experiencing poverty and significant social, economic, racial, and environmental injustice. Attention is paid to the tensions and competing interests between social services, community collaboration, and social change. The course includes 30 hours of community service at a social service organization and 21-day racial equity challenge. Course is required for those who intend to major in social work and recommended (or encouraged) for those interested in health and human services and social justice issues.

Provides students with a theoretical understanding of culture, ethnicity, oppression, gender and race that informs clinical assessment and intervention. Focus is on the psycho-social dimensions of disempowerment and social work practice building on client strengths. (Open to both graduate students in the major and non-major).

In our previous experience in devised work, topics of racism, police brutality, gender identity and white supremacy are almost always brought up, as prime topics of interest. The students will create a new play that will focus on what is important to them.

The films evaluated will all have a subject matter in the content that addresses controversial topics in today's society. Discussions and papers written will focus around the perspective of the filmmaker's narrative and evaluation of the film's locus of moral force, in addition to evaluating societies response to these controversial films and the audiences which promote or protest said films.

Our midterm project asks students to consider a moment where they or someone close to them experienced discrimination and to examine who else in their community may experience similar discrimination and why. Students then find and network with local organizations to find out how we can end these stories of discrimination and participate in social justice activism themselves.

This course takes a close look at women’s and other social movements, then and now, in the U.S. and globally, and central concerns and issues in the movements. It covers a broad spectrum of gender and resistance and asks what gaps/injustices need to be addressed today. Among the topics for a close examination are women’s movements; the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women’s influence on early women’s movement in the U.S.; Movements for Black Lives; the Title IX, etc. Attention is also paid to ways in which movements form, shift, evolve, and sustain themselves. While US women’s movements remain one of the foci in the course, the scope is deliberately global, comparative, intersectional, and interdisciplinary. The course challenges everyone to think about her/his/their status in society and what s/he/they would like to see changed. The course invites everyone to update gender, racial, and other intersectional concerns through the lens of a new generation. Racial and intersectional justice is squarely at the center of the course.