Carlow University Launches Social Justice Institutes Focusing on Gun Violence

Carlow University has launched its Social Justice Institutes with gun violence as its inaugural “Educating for Justice” issue, which will remain the focus through 2020.

Marketing and Communications For Immediate Release
Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations January 13, 2017
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Carlow Will Partner with Community Groups to Explore Ways to Reduce Gun Violence

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University will launch its Social Justice Institutes (SJI) on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, with an event being attended by community partners from government, non-profit, and the foundation communities in Pittsburgh.  SJI has selected gun violence as its inaugural “Educating for Justice” issue, which will remain its focus through 2020.

“Gun violence is a social justice issue as it disproportionately affects young people, lower-income people, people of color, and women,” said Jessica Ruffin, director of the Social Justices Institute at Carlow.  “The Social Justice Institutes’ multi-year, interdisciplinary approach will allow for curricular and co-curricular programming as well as community outreach and education.”

Each project that SJI will engage in will provide opportunities for input and leadership from community members.  The goal is for SJI to provide resources to the community that will then allow community members to become stronger advocates who are more effective at identifying priorities and interventions that can create systemic change communities identify as important to them.

“In 2016, the American Medical Association declared that gun violence is a public health crisis, and said that more research is needed to understand the consequences of gun violence, and what can be done to reduce the high rate of firearm related deaths and injuries,” said Ruffin.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole.  Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases.  Thus, public health is concerned with the total system and not only the eradication of a particular disease.”

“Using the the WHO’s parameters for the definition of public health,” said Ruffin, “we along with many of our community partners believe gun violence meets that criteria. Suicides and homicides, and their impact on families, employers, and communities, are two leading public health consequences of gun violence on which the Institutes can bring research and scholarship with the goal of reducing the number of deaths and injuries due to guns.”

At the SJI launch event, there will be statements about why gun violence was selected for the inaugural “Educating for Justice” issue, a short video featuring members of the Carlow University community who have been affected some way by gun violence, and an announcement by Carlow University’s President, Suzanne K. Mellon, about a special endowed scholarship.  (Additional details contained in a separate release.)

Following the SJI launch event on January 17, anyone who is interested in learning more about what Carlow University is doing to reduce gun violence, can visit


Editor’s Note:  Members of the news media are invited to attend the Social Justice Institutes launch event in the Kresge Center, located on the fifth floor of University Commons, on the Carlow University campus.  The event begins at 6 p.m.  Please call Drew Wilson on his cell phone – (412) 260-6807 – to arrange convenient, free parking.

About Carlow University’s Social Justice Institutes
The Social Justice Institutes includes the Grace Ann Geibel Institute for Justice and Social Responsibility and the Women of Spirit® Institute. The Geibel Institute engages students, faculty, staff and the community in research, education, and outreach that seeks to challenge systemic oppression. The new Women of Spirit® Institute will work to provide access to resources and programming for women seeking to create and implement solutions for social change. The collaboration between the two institutes will build capacity to make a sustainable impact in communities, locally and globally.

About Carlow University
Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curriculum, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s eleven athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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