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Introduction to Social Justice
( SOCW224 )

This course is an introduction to diverse theories and practical applications of social justice.  Students will explore meanings of oppression and discrimination and the role of citizens and public policies in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.  The course will examine various social movements, such as the civil rights movement, as efforts to remedy social and economic injustice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define social and economic justice;
  2. Explain various forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination;
  3. Describe the history of social movements and protest;
  4. Analyze the interplay of economic, ideological, and political forces in sustaining or addressing social and economic justice;
  5. Analyze the impact of public policies on various diverse groups related to age, culture, class, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, race, and religion;
  6. Analyze the impact of various social protest movements on social and economic justice; and
  7. Evaluate the various role citizens in a democratic society play in addressing social justice.


Because of the University’s recent designation as a Carnegie Engaged University, it is important for all students to understand the role citizens in a democracy play in overseeing the equitable and fair allocation of resources especially for the most vulnerable individuals and groups in our society. As we look to implementing the USI strategic plan adding social justice content to the curriculum advances the goal to “Increase the diversity of faculty, staff, and student body.”

Social justice means the equal and fair allocation of rights, privileges, resources, information, service, decision-making and opportunities for all people. Because there is no agreement on what constitute equality and fairness, it is vital that students be prepared to critically analyze the role of government, social activists, and citizens in addressing discrimination and oppression. All USI students need the opportunity to take a course on social justice that focuses on exploratory readings, guest speakers, guided discussions and reflective writing assignments—a course designed to aid in critical thinking about this important topic.

The Social Work Department is taking the lead in what we hope will be an interdisciplinary team of scholars and community leaders who will teach this course. Social justice is a key concept in social work education. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) directs all social work educators to prepare all students to 1) understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination, 2) advocate for human rights and social and economic justice, and 3) engage in practice that advance social and economic justice. 


It is the policy of the University of Southern Indiana to be in full compliance with all federal and state nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity laws, orders, and regulations relating to race, sex, religion, handicap, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or veteran status, Questions or concerns should be directed to the Affirmative Action officer, USI Human Resources Dept., Orr Center Room# 012, University of Southern Indiana, 8600 University Boulevard, Evansville, IN 47712 (Telephone: 812/464-1815). Office hours are 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.