The Social Justice Institutes at Carlow University, guided and informed by the mission, history and traditions of the University as well as its founders and sponsors, the Sisters of Mercy, works to facilitate change by providing education for social justice. The Social Justice Institutes (SJI) also supports the University’s strategic plan by working with faculty research, securing partnerships for community-based learning and serving as a platform for community engagement.

The SJI strives to close educational, socio-economic and leadership gaps, especially those that disproportionately affect women. 

The institutes’ projects fall under three themes:

  • Community-based learning
  • Supports faculty research
  • Community outreach and engagement

Carlow University’s Social Justice Institutes’ approach to these issues is rooted in a critical perspective that society is stratified in significant ways, including race, gender, class, sexuality and ability. Critical social justice sees inequality and works to rectify it. The important shared principles of the SJI include:

  • All people are individuals, but they are also members of social groups.
  • These social groups are valued unequally in society.
  • Social groups that are valued more highly have greater access to societal resources.
  • Social injustice is real, exists today and results in unequal access to resources between groups of people.
  • Those who claim to be for social justice must be engaged in self-reflection about their own socialization into these groups and must act from that awareness in ways that challenge social injustice.
  • This action requires a commitment to an ongoing and lifelong process.
  • We must recognize that relations of unequal social power are constantly being enacted at both the micro (individual) and macro (structural) levels.
  • We must understand our own positions within these relations of unequal power.
  • We must think critically about knowledge.
  • We must act on all of the above in service of a more socially just society.

The Social Justice Institutes works with University stakeholders on research, education and outreach. These focus areas include:

  • Ensuring that everyone has the same amount of protection from environmental and health hazards, and access to decision making that helps cultivate healthy environments.
  • Advocating for just immigration laws that help keep families together, provide a route to citizenship and provide access to opportunities for permanent residents.
  • Raising awareness of institutional racism and developing ways to combat it.
  • Preventing partner and child abuse, and fighting to end human trafficking and violence in our communities.
  • Ensuring the equal rights of women, including rights in education and the workplace, pregnancy and parenting discrimination, and violence against women.
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