Social Justice Initiative

Black Lives Matter protest photo
Photo: Marcella David

Columbia has a long-standing commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and we continue this effort with new conversations within our community regarding the many ways for the college to address its own systems and practices, which have perpetuated inequitable access to resources and opportunities for marginalized groups within our institution. This work was elevated in the fall of 2020 when the college introduced the Antiracism Transformation Team (ArTT). 

The college-wide Social Justice Initiative (SJI) launched in 2021 and is designed to expose and address underlying disparities within the college’s institutional framework. The Social Justice Initiative (SJI), housed in the Office of the Provost, presents the college community with opportunities to investigate the role of social justice in creative practice and the role of creatives in advancing social change. 

SJI gives the college an opportunity to practice advancing social justice at the institutional level by providing a context for ongoing intellectual college-wide discussions featuring guest speakers and lecturers. It highlights the work of faculty whose teaching and research positions social justice at the core of their creative practice. It also showcases student work through special projects and the development of new curricula. Through the Social Justice Initiative, we will leverage our position in the South Loop to push the conversation regarding social justice beyond our boundaries. 

SJI helps us understand and address long-standing gaps in achievement between white students and students of color at the college and develop and fund new support structures and resources needed to eliminate these achievement gaps over time. 

Community Engagement  
An important element of this initiative is our commitment to engage members of the community in our programming efforts. Our community will help shape the conversation and programs; your input in the planning will be as vital as your participation in the programs we develop together. 

SJI Steering Committee 

New Programs Launched During the 2021-2022 Academic Year  

Past Programming 
The Initiative is an ongoing project, with our initial focus placed on Diversity, Anti-Racism and Social Change. There are three major elements to the programming that was held in Spring 2021:  

A Social Justice Dialog: What does social justice mean? What does it mean to be an anti-racist? What does “diversity” mean today? Does “diversity” continue to be a relevant term? Using the CCC Engage platform, we will build opportunities for faculty, staff and students to connect on these and other topics. Collectively, we must share perspectives on current world and national events and consider how scholarly and creative practices can shape our world. 

Perspectives Conversation: We will engage campus leaders in in-depth conversations around social justice and national events. 

Creative Approaches to Social Justice: We are planning three programs to provide a unifying intellectual context for discernment and supports student work and development at creatives and leaders. Programs will be sponsored by each school, but open to the entire college.