Bachelor's Degree Program in Social Justice Studies Launches in Fall 2015

A new academic program at Eastern Kentucky University reframes the question many young people ask when they reach adulthood.

Forget the common “What do you want to do as a career?” quandary.

A newly approved bachelor’s degree program in Social Justice Studies (SJS) asks instead, “Who do you want to be and what role do you want to play in developing a more humane world?”

The interdisciplinary program will critically examine the cultural, economic and political dynamics of societal conflict and struggles for social justice among and between various groups and institutions. When it launches the program in Fall 2015, EKU will become the first college or university in Kentucky to offer a SJS degree.

Though housed in the School of Justice Studies in the University’s College of Justice and Safety, the SJS degree differs substantively from a Criminal Justice and Criminology degree, contending that the study of “justice” goes beyond the study of crime, law and the criminal justice system to place it within a more expansive economic, political and social context.

The program will draw upon a variety of academic disciplines such as American Studies, anthropology, cultural and political geography, sociology, political economy and cultua a more robust understanding of justice and injustice and strategies by which problems can be overcome.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, which formally approved the program on Sept. 16, has emphasized the importance of preparing students capable of advancing the social, cultural and environmental health of the state. The SJS major at Eastern will engage students in rigorous academic study of pressing social problems and facilitate their civic engagement as it prepares them for careers in public, private, non-profit and community-based sectors of employment, including activism, alternative media, community organizing, conflict resolution, domestic non-profit and social services, environmental advocacy, human relations, political campaigns and public policy analysis. 

For more information about the program, contact Dr. Preston Elrod, professor and division chair for undergraduate studies in the School of Justice Studies, at preston.elrod@eku.edu or 859-622-1160.

Elrod credited the work of the Social Justice Studies Committee and Dr. Sherry Robinson, executive assistant to the provost, for their work in crafting the program and moving it through the requisite stages of approval.

Published on September 22, 2014