Harper College


The Basics

To earn the Social Justice Studies (SJS) distinction, you must successfully complete at least 3 SJS course sections in addition to the Social Transformation Capstone (CAP201). The SJS course schedule is carefully designed to allow you to complete the distinction alongside your degree. Aside from CAP201, you are welcome to choose any SJS course sections that fit your interests and goals.

What to Expect

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.”


The Social Transformation Capstone (CAP201) must be successfully completed in order to earn the SJS Graduate Distinction. You are eligible to enroll in CAP201 once you have completed at least two other Social Justice Studies (SJS) course sections (see below).

  • 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: TBD
  • 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 two SJS course sections 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 Fall ‘24.]

Current SJS Courses

The following course sections will be offered in Spring '24. Courses that also fulfill the World Cultures and Diversity requirement are listed with a "+".

  • Instructor: Ranjani Murali
  • Banner Title: ENG101-SJ1: Composition/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 Weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:30am-10:45am
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In this ENG 102 section, we will explore oral narratives, cultural artifacts, and multimedia that dig deeper into Indigenous history in the U.S., including topics such as boarding schools and land treaties, particularly those related to Illinois. Students will be encouraged to explore how the language used by those with and in power was wielded to uproot and disenfranchise Indigenous communities and perpetrate a system of inequity. For their ENG 102 research project, students will be asked to explore ideas, solutions, and restorative justice practices that are used within, by, and for Indigenous communities for healing. Students will also be asked to discuss how non-Indigenous communities and individuals may engage constructively in dialogue on topics such as land reparations/ land back and restitution. rmurali@harpercollege.edu
    [English 102 will be offered every spring semester.]
Physical & Life Sciences
  • 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

    [BIO120 will also be offered in Fall ‘24.]
Humanities & Fine Arts
  • 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 Fall ‘24.]
  • Instructor: Natasha Pilipuf Ruiz
  • Banner Title: HUM110-SJ1: Women & Creativity/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:30am-10:45am
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In this course, we will explore the women’s spirituality movement of the 1970s through the lens of the humanities. Our exploration will include the voices of historically marginalized activists and contemporary voices who have contributed to the movement.  We will discover how social justice has remained at the heart of the grassroots women’s spirituality movement as it attempts to empower oppressed voices of women, women of color and trans women within patriarchal-centered cultures. Moreover, we explore essays written by foremothers and activists who address the impact patriarchal religions have had on political and social constructs since antiquity.  The course explores terms related to women’s spirituality, highlighting intersectionality, mythology, archeology, music, poetry, fine art, ecofeminist causes and dance as they manifest within the movement. The course uses film documentaries, images of fine art and archeological artifacts, summaries of goddess mythologies and ecofeminist essays to explore the question of patriarchy as systemic oppressor of political, social and spiritual representation. npilipuf@harpercollege.edu
  • Instructor: Andre Berchiolly
  • Banner Title: LIT112-SJW: Lit Film/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Theme: In this course we will explore the historical and cultural context of film adaptations over time and in relation to social justice. This course will allow the opportunity to engage with original texts and ideas (the spirit of the text) and the context of representation relating to contemporary, modern, and post-modern adaptations. We will also look into social media responses (public discourse) relating to representation in film adaptation. We will explore such questions as: how are different aspects of society and culture represented in literature and film; how do culture and society influence adaptation; how, where, and when do you see yourself represented in media; and how do dominant and non-dominant cultures use aberchio@harpercollege.edu.
  • Instructor: Andrew Anastasia
  • Banner Title: LIT115-SJW: Fiction/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In this online course, we will analyze contemporary texts (novels, films, television, and music) that feature LGBTQIA+ characters between the ages of 12 and 21 through the lenses of various theoretical frameworks (queer, feminist, critical race, crip, post-colonial). We will focus on reading “coming of age” narratives and themes of maturing into adulthood through the often messy, generative, and fabulous experiences of queer adolescence. While this course will broach the difficult situations queer youth face--mental health issues, homelessness, otherness, loneliness--we will also explore and celebrate queer cultural joy from intersectional perspectives. Finally, this course will ask students to apply historical, social, political, and geographical contexts to understand contemporary issues and identities our course media explores. aanastas@harpercollege.edu.
  • Instructor: Rebecca Scott
  • Banner Title: PHI101-SJ1: Critical Thinking/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday, 11am-12:15pm
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In this face-to-face section of Critical Thinking, we will consider the roles that thinking, reason, and argumentation play in our ongoing struggle for social justice. How does power affect what and how we think? How can we learn to ask better questions? When and how should we disagree with one another? And what should we do about the corrupting influences on public discourse such as misinformation, propaganda, and trolling? This course will give you the opportunity to practice listening and productively disagreeing with one another in a supportive and inclusive environment. rscott1@harpercollege.edu 

    [A different PHI course (TBD) will be offered in Fall ‘24.]
Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Instructor: Amaziah Finley
  • Banner Title: ANT202-SJ1: Cultural Anthro/ Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday, 2pm-3:15pm
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: This cultural anthropology course explores the vulnerability and resistance attached to our intersectional positions in society. We discuss topics of culture, including how resistance is natural to belonging to a culture. Within the topic of culture, we explore language and power, fieldwork and ethnography, race and racism, whiteness and white privilege, gender, class and inequality, the global economy, health and illness disparities, and art as resistance. For the final project, students will be asked to create a portfolio of resistance, conducting their own ethnography of sorts to prove that knowledge is power.  fa17019@harpercollege.edu 
  • Instructor: Monica Edwards
  • Banner Title: SOC101-SJ1: Sociology/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In our time together, we will engage in analysis of the structure and dynamics of human society.  We will explore theoretical and empirical work to observe and analyze social norms, groups, intergroup relations, social change, social stratification, and institutions.  This course will dive into questions of social organization, social change, and social justice through an exploration of the intersection of food systems and systemic racism; we will do so with a focus on outcomes related to the climate crisis and Covid pandemic.  Emerging from sociological analyses of our complex interdependence is a push for compassion and solidarity; as such, the policies of the class will reflect this larger sociological--and feminist--ethos of care.  IAI S7 900.  3 Credit Hours.  Open Educational Resources, Social/Behavioral Sci-AA/AS, Sociology Elective, Social/Behavioral Sciences-AAS, World Culture and Diversity. medwards@harpercollege.edu
    [SOC101 will also be offered in Summer and Fall ‘24.] 
  • Instructor: LaVonya Williams
  • Banner Title: DIV101-SJ1: Exploring Diversity in the US/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In DIV 101, students will examine their intersecting identities while discussing dimensions of their own culture. The cultural and historical experiences of socially marginalized groups in the United States are also explored. Students will analyze the dynamics of prejudice and discrimination between groups and the impact of social power differences on peoples’ lives. Human rights, social change and social movements will be introduced. 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 issue of their choosing with instructor approval. lwilliam@harpercollege.edu

    [DIV101 will also be offered in Summer and Fall ‘24.] 
  • Instructor: Alina Pajtek
  • Banner Title: LNG205-SJ6: Language Culture/ SocJustice
  • Modality (PoT): Blended (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday 5:30pm-7:10pm
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: In this course, we will explore the relationship between language, culture, and society through a cultural relativist lens and an interdisciplinary perspective. We will draw on theoretical and empirical work in our in-class analyses and discussions on the relationship between language and thought, intercultural communication, regional and social variations of English, bilingualism and multiculturalism, and language loss. We will also delve into the linguistic construction of ideologies and socioeconomic class, and we will discuss language use to understand how language promotes and reflects gender stereotypes and inequities. This course will give you the opportunity to learn about other languages and cultures in an engaging class format. apajtek@harpercollege.edu 
  • Instructor: Maham Khan
  • Banner Title: MCM130-SJ6: Intro to Journal/SocJustice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (Late start - 13 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday 1pm-2:30pm
  • Credits: 3
  • Theme: This “Introduction to Journalism” section will be an exploration of the journalism industry’s role in the writing of history and storytelling—and how that has both empowered and damaged the causes and voices of marginalized groups throughout modern times. We will take a critical look at how news media then influences the social nature of justice through simplified schemas, builds “heroes” and “villains” and examine micro-level biases. Students will observe case studies and writing samples from journalism platforms that serve as poignant moments in the evolution of social justice work while also learning the professional process of reporting and writing. Students will also be introduced to minority media and content providers that they may normally lack access to due to knowledge, issues of trust, bias, or geography. Students will get to learn how to use writing as a powerful mechanism for advocacy and change by addressing topics relevant to them and to the Harper College community. The experience in this course will place students in the center of social justice work by doing it—through the writing and reporting process and journeying to the realization that their voice matters. mkhan3@harpercollege.edu

For more information, contact the Social Justice Studies Coordinator:

Michael Bentley




Last Updated: 4/8/24