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Social Justice

Social Justice


Elena Herrada, M.A.
Program Coordinator
Madame Cadillac Building, Room 312
Direct (313) 927-1418

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Brenda Bryant, Ph.D.
Dean of Community-Based Learning
Madame Cadillac Building, Room 310
Direct: (313) 927-1502

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Master of Arts in Social Justice

Social Justice Overview


Social justice education is important. The Master of Arts in Social Justice Program flows from the mission of Marygrove College. The program is ideal for those interested in learning about theory and practice that promotes social justice and change. It provides for analysis and reflection in the ways of thinking about the values, assumptions, and the actions that maintain the economic, political, and cultural structures that shape our lives. It also seeks to build competencies and skills to transform these structures toward a more just society. In addition, this program seeks to create an internal culture of justice among the candidates.

SJ 525 Special Topics The Theology of Resistance

Does your faith inform your civic participation?
Do your values compel you to act, but you don’t know how?
Do you wonder what the role of the faithful is in reforming our society?

In this era of domination, illegitimate authority, social violence, and spiritual disempowerment, faith traditions can provide a resource for resistance and reweaving human community.

Locally, Detroiters are ruled by various forms of “Emergency Management. What are people of faith called to do in this moment?


Accessing a variety of faith traditions, this course will help students develop their own theology of resistance. Pedagogically, this development will be focused by reading texts in diverse sites of struggle in the city, supplemented with common readings, contextual Detroit history, non-violence training, student initiated direct action, and common reflection on all.

SJ 525 Special Topics: The Theology of Resistance – a new course open to the community — offered by the Master of Social Justice — will be held every Thursday evening from 6-9pm, Fall Semester, 2012.

Enrollment Details: 

  • Audit the course (requires no degree): $320/credit (3 credit course); you will get no graduate credit for the course
  • If you have an undergraduate degree and want to take it for credit: enroll as a “special” student (you would get 3 graduate credits towards the Masters of Social Justice program and/or 3 graduate credits that you can transfer into another graduate program (if the graduate program allows credit transfer): $640/credit hour
  • If you are in Marygrove’s consortium (i.e., Madonna or UDM) and want to enroll for graduate credit: enroll as a “guest” student; $640/credit hour 

For further details about this class, contact Dr. Brenda Bryant at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Elena Herrada at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


To enroll for the course, please contact Emily Crisman at (313) 927-1367 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Social Justice Course Descriptions

SJ 500: Social Foundations 2 credits

This seminar provides an overview of the program. Students identify issues, concepts and the systems that define, influence and shape the world, as well as the values associated with a just world. Opportunities to create an internal culture of justice among the candidates are provided.

SJ 503: Human Rights and the Literature 2 credits

The course is designed to enhance the understanding of human rights from the legal, historical, literary and cultural perspective. Students approach literature both as an ethical and political project, and consider the connection between human rights and literature. This course also explores whether emotions such as empathy — what literary works evoke among the readers — have a necessary relation to justice. Finally, students examine how narratives (including films) enable or disable memory, truth telling, and justice in the aftermath of atrocity.

SJ 505: Economic Analysis of Structures: Globalism 2 credits

The aim of this course is to foster understanding of the major relationships involved in the functioning of the global economy today and the perspectives of various groups that impact the realization of more just, humane and sustainable societies in the USA and in the world. Ethical evaluation in light of the principles of the human rights tradition will under gird the economic analysis.

SJ 510: Campaigns and Elections 2 credits

This course is an exploration of major facets of the US political campaigns and elections, including voter turnout and choice, grassroots activity, lobbying, and the role of money and media with special focus on the potential for reform.

SJ 520: Values in Society: Sources and Resources 2 credits

This course explores the origins and functions of values in personal and social life, including a survey of some of the principal concepts used in contemporary discussions of justice. In the collaborative framework of the seminar, students focus on how values arise, how they are articulated, how they figure in our decision making, how they shape our social institutions, how they conflict, and how those conflicts are addressed.

SJ 524: Environmental Justice 2 credits

This course is designed to introduce students to the law and policy of environmental justice. Environmental justice is at the confluence of the civil rights movement and the environmental movement.  Students will develop an understanding of the scientific, economic, ethical, and legal underpinnings of environmental justice decision-making with a focus on Detroit.

SJ 525: Special Topics 3 credits

This course was designed to cover special interest areas in depth. Topics are developed each year depending upon the interests of the students and/or the community. Students may substitute this course, when offered, for the practicum requirement.

SJ 530: The Role of Psychology in Social Justice 2 credits

This seminar will investigate the psychology of social justice and consumerism with respect to local and international implications.  The seminar will further provide an understanding of the impact of materialism on groups and individuals. Examination of race and racism will be presented from the lenses of Colonialism, Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome and the dysfunctional side of White Privilege. In addition, it will explore contemporary perspectives on spiritual and emotional intelligence as they relate to social injustices.  

SJ 605: Justice in U.S. Economic Structures 2 credits

This course provides an overview of the current system of economic relations within the United States from the perspective of increasing social justice. Students review the actors and relationships that govern the domestic economic system focusing on macroeconomic issues such as income distribution, unemployment, poverty, government policies, and the implications of corporate power. Questions related to the social and political implications of our economic system and policies, which might improve the well-being of individuals marginalized by the system, are examined.

SJ 620: Religion and Justice: Conflict and Congruence   2 credits

In this course students explore the place of religious traditions in human affairs, examine some typical religious institutions and their practices, scan a number of relevant religious documents, and discern the ways in which religion shapes, promotes, or hinders the practice of justice in society. Historical examples help clarify our current situation. The course seeks to analyze some religious values, evaluate the congruence or dissonance of professed values with policy and practice, and assess the contribution of religion in its cultural settings.

SJ 625: Leadership and Organizational Development I 2 credits

Leadership for Social Justice is a course that deepens an appreciation for the context and styles of leadership at the forefront of struggles for social justice. The course will illuminate how values and principles underpin critical leadership. Students become familiar with social justice theorists, and explore concepts such as democratic decision-making, civic engagement, and structural inequality. Students are introduced to tools needed by today’s leaders, such as systems thinking, strategic thinking, and organizational and community diagnosis.

SJ 630: Understanding through Empiricism 2 credits

In this seminar students learn about the use of psychological empiricism to support social justice issues. Differences between a subjective approach and an empirical approach are examined. Additional topics include the utility of a social science/social justice approach, the impact of under-represented groups, stereotyping, pseudo-science, and human behavior experiments. Skills to be practiced in this seminar include grant writing, bibliographic search, and presentation of a persuasive empirically based argument.

SJ 635: Leadership and Organizational Development II 2 credits

Leaders are knowledgeable about how to work with and motivate people at the interpersonal, group and community levels. This course links social justice leadership and the roots of organization development. It highlights change theory, terminology, and literature for social justice professionals pursuing an advocacy role. Students are given opportunities to build such practical skills as how to best use oneself in the service of social justice, dealing with diverse situations, active and empathic listening, strategic thinking, and more.

SJ 640: Organizing for Social Change 2 credits

This course focuses on theories, and fundamental strategies and skills for community organizing and change. Topics include the power of language, identification of social problems, understanding values and ethics within the context of community work, and frameworks for policy analysis and solutions. It also explores the basics for creating a non-profit organization.

SJ 645: The Media and Its Effects on Social Issues 2 credits

In this course students explore the impact of various media sources on societal reaction to popular social problems. Having determined the extent to which popular images create and recreate problems, policies and programs that attempt to address societal problems, students explore the pursuit of justice via media sources. A plethora of techniques and strategies is discussed to pursue and promote justice oriented solutions via media outlets.

SJ 650: Reflection Seminar 2 credits

This is the last weekend of the program. In this seminar students have the opportunity to share their social justice projects and reflect upon their transformation in the program and their role as a social advocate. Future direction and collaboration for the work that has begun is explored. Students are also encouraged to evaluate the process and content of the program.

SJ 655: Social Justice Practicum 3 credits

This course is intended to provide experience based learning in an area of special interest to the student. Candidates will work with both an on-site supervisor and a college mentor to foster growth in their areas of needed skills.

SJ 660: Master’s Project 3 credits

This course provides the opportunity for students to create their own synthesis of advanced learning while putting it into action. A college mentor offers supportive guidance throughout the process.

Social Justice Curriculum

Required Courses (33 credits)

SJ 500  Social Foundations (2)

SJ 510  Campaigns and Elections (2)

SJ 625  Leadership and Organizational  Development I (2)

SJ 635  Leadership and Organizational Development II (2)

SJ 520  Values in Society: Sources and Resources (2)

SJ 530  The Role of Psychology in Social Justice (2)

SJ 505  Economic Analysis of Structures: Globalism (2)

SJ 524  Environmental Justice (2)

SJ 620  Religion and Justice: Conflict and Congruence (2)

SJ 640  Organizing for Social Change (2)

SJ 630  Understanding through Empiricism (2)

SJ 645  The Media and Its Effects on Social Issues (2)

SJ 605  Justice in U.S. Economic Structures (2)

SJ 503  Human Rights and the Literature (2)

SJ 650  Reflection Seminar (2)

SJ 660  Master’s Project (3)

Electives (3 credits)

Choose one of the following courses.  SJ 525, when offered, can be taken in place of the practicum requirement.

SJ 655  Social Justice Practicum (3)

SJ 525  Special Topics (3)

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