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.”

Required Courses

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

  • ENG101 - Composition I/Social Justice or 
    ENG102 - Composition II/Social Justice
  • DIV101- Exploring Diversity in the US/Social Justice 
  • SOC101 - Intro to Sociology/Social Justice 

Required Social Justice Studies course sections offered in Spring 2023

  • Instructor: Ranjani Murali
  • Banner Title: ENG102-SJ1: Composition/Social Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30am-10:45am
  • 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.  
    [To earn the SJS Distinction, students must complete either ENG101 OR ENG102.] 
    [English 101 will be offered every Fall, while ENG 102 will be offered every Spring.
  • Instructor: LaVonya Williams
  • Banner Title: DIV101-SJW: Exploring Diversity in the US/Social Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Theme: In DIV 101 for Spring 2023, 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.

    [Students must complete DIV101 to earn the SJS Distinction.] 
    [DIV101 will be offered every semester]
  • Instructor: Monica Edwards
  • Banner Title: SOC101-SJ1: Sociology/Social Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday, 12:30-1:45
  • 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.

    [To earn the SJS Distinction, students must complete SOC101.]
    [SOC101 will be offered every semester.]


The additional 3 required credit hours can be chosen from any available Social Justice Studies course sections.

Social Justice Studies electives offered in Spring 2023:

  • Instructor: Virginia Mchugh-Kurtz
  • Banner Title: BIO120-SJ1: Plants/Society/Social Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 11am-12:15pm and 12:30-1:45pm (Lab)
  • Theme: This blended section of Biology 120: Plants & Society - Social Justice Studies 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
  • Instructor: Rebecca Scott
  • Banner Title: PHI101-SJ1: Critical Thinking/Soci Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday, 11am-12:15pm
  • 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. 

    [A different PHI course will be offered in Fall ‘23.]
  • Instructor: Andre Berchiolly
  • Banner Title: LIT112-SJ1: Lit & Film/Social Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Face-to-Face (16 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: Tuesday, 11am-1:40pm
  • 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 media?

  • Instructor: Michael Bentley
  • Banner Title: HUM107-SJW: Cultures of Africa/Soc Justice
  • Modality (PoT): Online Asynchronous (Late start - 12 weeks)
  • Meeting Time: N/A
  • Theme: In this online 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.     
    [A different HUM course will be offered in Fall ‘23.]

For more information, contact the Social Justice Studies Coordinator:

Michael Bentley  



Last Updated: 11/4/22