Social Justice Leadership Certificate Program

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Office of International Education jointly coordinate this collaborative professional development program for faculty and staff. 

The SJLC consists of a year-long, project-based curriculum focusing on social justice theory, the institutional structure and organizational decision-making practices of Harper College. Participants are supported through the project development and implementation phases of the program by a SJLC Peer Coach.

The objectives of the program are to

  • build skills and capacities in faculty and staff to lead and support initiatives related to diversity and inclusion.
  • orient the community towards an awareness of social justice in all areas of the college. 
  • implement a social justice lens in supporting student success and employee engagement.
  • build community and support for employees advancing diversity and inclusion at Harper.

Social Justice Leadership

Social Justice Leadership Cohort 2019-2020 at National Conference on Race and Ethnicity — Portland, OR
Left to right: Samantha Schenk (Institutional Research), Pearl Ratunil (Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), Andrew Anastasia (English), Tara Gary (Liberal Arts), Aaron Posey (Advising), Nellie Khalil (Biology). Not pictured: Michael Magee (Advising)

Social Justice Leadership

Photograph left to right: Carolann Dunn, Pearl Ratunil, Monica Shirley (Diverse Faculty Fellow), Raeghan Graessle, Deena Ata, Joe Scrima, Esmeralda Guerrero-Lopez, Michael Bentley

Program Description

The year-long experience falls roughly into two phases. The first half of the program runs from May through December, and focuses on the conceptual and theoretical framework of what social justice is, can be, and might look like at Harper College. Meetings begin in the summer with the goal of building community and trust among the cohort and constructing a foundation of knowledge in the tents of social justice action. In the fall semester, cohort members focus on Harper College as a collection of organizational units comprised of individuals with different roles and experiences.  Through summer and fall, the cohort applies the principles of social justice in the conceptualization and formulation of their projects. Each participant (participants may work in pairs or small groups) are expected to develop a project that positively impacts the strategic directions of diversity, equity and inclusion at Harper College. The first phase culminates in a formal presentation of project proposals to the SJLC Advisory board.

The second half of the program runs from January through May, and focuses on the further development and implementation of the cohort projects. The formal SJLC program ends with the submission of a final Action and Evaluation Plan for each project and a celebration of the cohort’s journeys. The power of the SJLC experience is that many of the projects grow and bear long after the program. Past projects have included professional development workshops on White Fragility and trauma-informed pedagogy, the development of a Social Justice oriented curriculum, research and advocacy for a childcare facility for Harper College students, and the research on the demand and need for an intercultural space for students.

Application Process and Timeline

  • Applications open February 14 through March 18, 2022.
  • Applicants must apply by March 18, 2022. Space is limited.
  • Now open to full-time, part-time and adjunct employees.
  • In person interviews are required for finalists after the College's Spring Break. 
  • Notification will be sent out the week of April 11, 2022.
  • Newly selected cohort members must attend the last 2021-2022 SJLC meeting on Friday, May 6 from 12 - 2 pm.

Program Expectations

Participants are expected to attend and participate fully in all SJLC programs and activities. Each participant will develop a project that positively impacts the strategic directions of diversity, equity and inclusion at Harper College. The commitment extends from May 2022 through May 2023.

This program will provide participants with the following opportunities:

  • Summer Experience (4 meetings including a shared book read. Dates and book TBA)
  • September 9, 2022: Social Justice Retreat
  • Monthly meetings of approximately 3 hours for workshops and presentations from October 2022 through April 2023. Meetings will be Friday afternoons from 1–4 p.m on the following dates:
    • October 7, 2022
    • November 11, 2022
    • Project Presentations: December 5-9, 2022
    • February 3, 2023
    • March 3 2023
    • April 7, 2023
  • Attend the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Celebration held in April 2023.

Questions? Contact Dr. Tamara Johnson, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,, ext. 6397 or Richard Johnson, Director, Office of International Education,, ext. 6429.

Last Updated: 8/24/22