Social Justice Studies Course Sections

Each semester, a cluster of special Social Justice Studies course sections will be offered. These courses are specially designed to engage students in an ongoing dialogue about the meaning of social justice and in an exploration of the most compassionate, equitable, and inclusive practices and strategies for achieving more just societies. The content of these courses provides opportunities for students to explore how their individual identities, cultural backgrounds, and chosen disciplines situate them in relation to systems of power and privilege. Enrollment in these courses will also offer students an opportunity to form meaningful relationships with instructors and fellow students who share their desire to co-create a more just and sustainable future.

All Harper students are encouraged to enroll in Social Justice Studies course sections and to participate in SJS programming at Harper. Social Justice Studies course sections will be designated in the course schedule by an “SJ” course section notation and a specialized title. Example: “ENG101-SJ1: Composition I/Social Justice.”

Core Courses

8-9 out of the 11-12 required credit hours must come from the following core Social Justice Studies course sections:

  • ENG101 - Composition/Social Justice or
    ENG102 - Composition/Social Justice
  • DIV101 - Exploring Diversity in the US/Social Justice or
    SOC101 - Intro to Sociology/Social Justice 
  • CAP201 - Social Transformation Capstone

Core Social Justice Studies course sections offered in Fall 2023

  • Instructor: Judi Nitsch
  • Banner Title: ENG101-SJW: Composition/Social Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (16 Weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: Welcome! In this course, we will explore social justice in the context of our cultural identities. Specifically, students choose one of their cultural identities as a lens and then consider what (in)justice looks like in their culture, what problems impede justice in their culture, and what solutions could remove those impediments from their culture. I enact socially-just policies in my course, so know that you will be given lots of support and opportunity to grapple with these difficult and exciting topics. If you would like to see my syllabus or if you have questions about the course, don’t hesitate to email me at mnitsch@harpercollege.edu. I look forward to working with you! 
    [Students must complete either ENG101 or ENG102 to earn the SJS Distinction.] 
    [English 102 will be offered Spring ‘24.]
  • Instructor: Monica Edwards
  • Banner Title: SOC101-SJ1: Sociology/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: in this course, the focus is on exploring culture and other diversity issues and topics utilizing an interactive personal development format. Students will examine their intersecting identities while discussing dimensions of their own culture. The culture and historical experiences of social affinity groups related to Ability, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Religion, and Race//Ethnicity in the United States are also explored. Students will also analyze the dynamics of prejudice and discrimination between groups and the impact of social power differences on peoples’ lives. The experiential nature of this course will give students the opportunity to dialogue about diversity and social justice topics and to develop skills necessary to interact effectively in a diverse society. Students will complete a final course assignment addressing a diversity or social justice topic of their choosing with instructor approval. Fulfills World Cultures and Diversity requirement. klacour@harpercollege.edu
    [Students must complete DIV101 or SOC101 to earn the SJS Distinction.
    [DIV101 has been moved to Spring ‘24.] 

  • Instructor: Eric Bohman
  • Banner Title: CAP201-001: Social Transformation Capstone (2 Credit) or CAP201-002: Social Transformation Capstone (3 credit)
  • Modality (PoT): Blended/Hyflex (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesdays 4:30-5:30pm
  • Credits: 2 (no service/experiential learning component) or3 (includes service/experiential learning component)
  • Theme: Focuses on developing project design and management skills for the purposes of analyzing global movements and/or addressing social justice problems and solutions. Special emphasis will be given to interdisciplinary questions, methods, and applications related to information literacy, intercultural communication and collaboration, critical thinking, and civic engagement. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their personal, professional and academic journeys with the goal of applying acquired knowledge toward fostering justice-oriented social transformation. ebohman@harpercollege.edu
    Prerequisites: Students must complete at least courses of required interdisciplinary coursework in their intended STAGE Distinction to enroll in the capstone course. For special exceptions, contact instructor.
    [Students must complete CAP201 to earn the SJS Distinction.] 
    [CAP201 will also be offered in Spring ‘24.]


At least 3 of the remaining required credit hours can be chosen from any available Social Justice Studies elective course sections.

Social Justice Studies electives offered in Fall 2023:

  • Instructor: Virginia Mchugh-Kurtz
  • Banner Title: BIO120-SJ1: Plants/Society/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 11am-12:15pm (lecture) and 12:30-1:45pm (lab)
  • Credits: 4
  • Theme: this course focuses on the form and function of plants, their diversity, and the economic and environmental impacts of plants in our everyday lives and in society. The theme of this SJS course will be Cannabis and Society. Students will explore the botanical nature, history, environmental impact, public policy, and social disparities of Cannabis. A main component of the course will be focusing on the “War on Drugs,” decriminalization of Cannabis, policy reform, and racial justice. BIO 120 (IAI L1 901L) fulfills the life science lab requirement for AS and AA degrees.  I look forward to exploring the twisted history of Cannabis with you. If you have questions about the course, don’t hesitate to email me at vmchughk@harpercollege.edu.
  • Instructor: Rebecca Scott
  • Banner Title: PHI101-SJ1: Critical Thinking/Soci Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30am-10:45pm
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: in this course, we will explore a range of philosophical principles and problems of philosophy as seen in different schools of thought, particularly as they relate to the theme of justice. Beginning with Plato's construction of an ideal city in the Republic and inspired by abolitionist calls for a radical reimagining of political possibility, we will explore our own conceptions of justice by engaging in a creative, collaborative world-building project. Throughout the semester, we will work together as a class to reimagine what justice might look like through the creation of a fictional world that represents our own conceptions of justice. Specific topics will be based on student interest but may include things such as religious belief, education and knowledge, the ontology of race and gender, (dis)ability, human choice and accountability, love and marriage practices, the value of art, and more. IAI H4 900. rscott1@harpercollege.edu. 

    [A different PHI course (TBD) will be offered in Spring ‘24.]
  • Instructor: Robert Allare
  • Banner Title: HST214-SJW: Af.-American Hst/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: this course focuses on Black Agency through the lenses of politics, culture, gender, race, economics, laws, religion, and innovation.  Students will have opportunities to either write an essay, produce a podcast or create a video on how Black Agency has changed in at least two of the topics outlined above.  Course assignments will highlight the challenges faced by African Americans and how they attempted to overcome them. rallare@harpercollege.edu. 
  • Instructor: Michael Bentley
  • Banner Title: HUM107-SJW: Cultures of Africa/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: in this course we will explore how three ideologies, which were each essential to the African Independence Movement (Negritude, Afrocentrism, and Pan-Africanism) have empowered scholars, artists, and freedom fighters across the African diaspora to remember and re-imagine what it means to be African, to be human, and to be free. Students will have the opportunity to explore how these ideas challenge and empower them to think more critically about their own identities and their relationship to power. IAI HF 904N. mbentley@harpercollege.edu.
    [HUM107 will also be offered in Spring ‘24.]
  • Instructor: Jessica Walsh
  • Banner Title: ENG220-SJ1: Creative Writing/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 2-3:40pm
  • Theme: this course will focus on how writing can bring about transformation—in the writer, the reader, and in society. In what ways can the poetry and fiction we write today bring about a more just world? How can our internal landscapes change the landscape around us? We’ll look at traditional and experimental work as we build a community in which we share and improve one another’s work. jwalsh@harpercollege.edu.
  • Instructor: Kelly Coronado
  • Banner Title: LNG105: Int to Lng/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Monday 5:30-7:10pm
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: this course explores language and focuses on issues of social justice in English language education in the U.S.—Specifically, we will study language origins, properties, use, structure, and meaning. Through studying sound, word-formation, and syntactic systems, we will look at language hierarchies in American society and how one’s language proficiency is attached to one’s worth in society. Students will learn and research past and current pedagogy used for bilingual education through a critical lens to address equity gaps in the different models and try to determine best practices for equitable English language education. kcoronad@harpercollege.edu. 
    [LNG205 will be offered in Spring ‘24.]

For more information, contact the Social Justice Studies Coordinator:

Michael Bentley




Last Updated: 9/1/23