Faculty Member Editor of New Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice

Thompson photo

As a researcher and professor, he wanted to bring enriching evidence to his classes that supports the proposition that all people are truly created equal and that an informed and supportive environment promotes personal growth and a healthy society.


So Dr. Sherwood Thompson, professor of education and interim chief diversity officer at Eastern Kentucky University, dedicated three years to collecting, compiling and scrutinizing more than 300 diversity and social justice terms in order to become familiar with language that supports a sense of appreciation of human differences.


The result is the recently published Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice, a unique, 900-page, two-volume set edited by Thompson and filled with "comprehensive and systematic collections of designated entries that describe, in detail, important diversity and social justice themes."


Other works, Thompson said, focus on niches of diversity and social justice, such as diversity in education, social justice in school leadership, and the diversity of the international presence in the U.S. The Encyclopedia "reveals the unique nature of the language of diversity and social justice and makes the connection between how this language influences individuals – negatively and positively – in institutions and society."


The work includes:


·         introductions on diversity and social justice.


·         a glossary of more than 300 alphabetically-arranged terms with explanations of common usage, historical and cultural significance, and even political implications.


·         alternative and contemporary diversity and social justice terms.


·         entries and phrases that may not be familiar to most people and are often misunderstood in discussions of diversity and social justice.


"Diversity and social justice are two of the most misunderstood and amorphous words in … multicultural terminology," Thompson said. "In fact, these terms are convenient euphemisms used by political correctness opponents. I hope this set will impact the reader by introducing a positive discussion on the complexities of cultural, social, or political expressions and guide the reader along a path of understanding the somewhat complicated nature of these terms. The mere nature of diversity and social justice terminology causes differences of opinions; in some cases, it animates individuals by promoting and rallying particular actions relative to individual or group causes. I want the Encyclopedia to offer a scholarly explanation of particular terms – their origins, meaning and common usage – (and) I hope it will help the reader guard against the biases of demagogues who use popular cultural, social, and political terminology as propaganda for unscrupulous purposes."


A collection of national and international scholars and experts, assisted by a network of contributors and consultants, authored 300 entries, all written in a straightforward manner to appeal to scholars and general readers alike.


​Thompson said the Encyclopedia "can be a useful tool for faculty, students and the general public because it covers many of the most popular terms used in current conversations on diversity and social justice, from ageism to xenophobia. It also provides a rich discussion of alternative viewpoints to popular doctrines and philosophical truths. Individuals, universities, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and media outlets can benefit from the references to the cultural, social, and political vernacular that collectively offer a historical perspective on society."


The Encyclopedia opens with a "very provocative" essay on social justice by Dr. Louis Tietje, who develops a case for social justice by tracing its origins in a manner that supports the case that social justice is a relevant concept for today's society. Another "interesting" contribution, Thompson said, is a discussion by EKU Education Professor Dr. Samuel Hinton on the Melungeons, dark-skinned Appalachians. Another "revealing" entry is an essay on the racial suicide paradox in the U.S. – Dr. Kimberly Truong shares her research on the alarming rate of whites who commit suicide across all age groups and socioeconomic strata.


Thompson, who "regretfully" rejected more than 100 additional entries, said he hopes other scholars "will continue this investigation and publish relevant research on this very popular topic."


The Encyclopedia can be acquired from the publisher, Rowman and Littlefield, from online retailers and through academic libraries across the U.S.

Published on February 17, 2015

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