The study of social justice centres on questions relating to the distribution of society’s benefits across its population. This concentration takes students into discussions about their role in the creation of democratic communities that actively promote social equality, human rights, and fair opportunities for everyone, regardless of differences in class, race, gender, ethnicity, ability, or sexual orientation. The program of study includes problem-based inquiries into poverty, marginalization, and discrimination as well as exploration of various ways in which media, educational systems, literature, public policies, social institutions, and legal structures might construct and perpetuate inequalities or assist in addressing and overcoming systemic and other oppressions. A particular focus on Indigenous justice is explored in some courses. Moreover, some courses make active connections between the classroom and local organizations, including not-for profit agencies and community groups.
A focus on Social Justice is one of the pillars of Lakehead University, not only in the Academic Plan but also the Strategic Management Agreement. Given the importance for society of questions relating to social justice, debates on this topic are inherently interdisciplinary. Most disciplines provide key descriptions and definitions of many injustices and ideal solutions present in society. This is an area in which sociologists, criminologists, political scientists, and scholars of media and literature all work together to analyze the complexity of problematic situations and envision equitable solutions. As a result, this program offers a spectrum of courses drawn from a range of Social Science and Humanities disciplines, addressing questions such as:
What is social justice? How is social justice different from just plain justice?
How does a society decide how much social justice is the right amount? Do different societies value social justice in different amounts?
Why do modern societies seem to becoming more and more unequal over time? Should we do anything about this? Is inequality “natural”?
What are the criminological impacts of social inequality and systemic discrimination?
Why are the inmates of Canada’s jails and prisons drawn disproportionately from the ranks of poor people and racial minorities, and especially from First Nations and Afro-Canadian communities?
How are race, class, gender, and sexuality stereotypes reinforced and/or challenged in literature and in different forms of media?
How can imaginative constructions, fictional stories, or digital media strategies assist in probing and resisting sexism, racism, homophobia, and other injustices?
How do social policies and political processes shape the future of local and global justice? What is involved in ethical decision making?
How can a peaceful, just society be created and maintained?
What types of skills and professional careers can contribute the most to the development of socially just societies?
A concentration in social justice gives students interdisciplinary opportunities and critical skills to investigate various inequalities as well as the potential to imagine and propose positive social change through policy and practice.
The Social Justice concentration will appeal to individuals who are community-oriented and willing to engage as citizens and problem-solvers with respect to equity and human rights. It would also appeal to active and life-long learners, educators, artists, writers, and politically active individuals. This concentration leads to work, career, community engagement, and further study opportunities in the fields of education, policing, public service, social work, women’s studies, community justice, the charity and not-for-profit sectors, law and policy development, community organizing, media and journalism, and the arts. For those interested in graduate studies, Lakehead offers an MA in Social Justice for which this concentration would provide an ideal background, although other graduate programs would be appropriate as well.
The Social Justice concentration is recommended for students in the HBASc Interdisciplinary Studies major who are taking disciplinary courses in Criminology, English, Media Studies, Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s Studies. Program details for the concentration can be found here.