Department of Community and Social Justice Studies


Three departments in the COHSS - Anthropology, Africana-World Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies - have come together as a new department, Community and Social Justice Studies. The new Department is distinguished by a fundamental rethinking and reframing of ideas of community, culture, and socioeconomic development through the ‘social justice’ paradigm. We offer a breadth of interdisciplinary courses, knowledge, skills, research and data analysis, and experiential learning opportunities for students. Our faculty expertise is wide-ranging - combining community-based ethnographic and public research with critical biocultural, historical and comparative perspectives on community, development, social justice, and inequality. Our courses, pedagogical approach, research, and community service underscore our collective belief that ‘communities’ are sites of knowledge production and of social demands for ‘development’ and ‘social change’. Students will be prepared for careers in community development, diversity, leadership, youth programs, and human resource development in governmental, non-governmental/community-based organizations, and corporate-community relations. 

The mission of the Community Development and Social Justice Program is to 

prepare students to 

  • critically examine community development through the lens of social justice  
  • investigate systemic inequalities and injustices using interdisciplinary and decolonizing frameworks and practices
  • actively engage in social change by shaping public debates, working with and for communities, and influencing public policy
  • occupy positions of leadership and pursue careers in community development, public policy, and as community advocates


  • experiential learning activities 
  • field experiences (participatory action research, engagement in advocacy projects) 
  • critical skills for biocultural analysis, sociocultural analysis, power mapping, needs analysis, impact analysis, and sociohistorical/archival analysis
  • collaborative partnerships with local organizations and communities  


  • BA in Africana World Studies
  • BA in Anthropology
  • BA in Community Development and Social Justice
  • BA in Women's and Gender Studies


  • Minor in Africana World Studies
  • Minor in Anthropology
  • Minor in Social Justice Studies
  • Minor in Women's and Gender Studies

Certificate Programs

  • Cultural Competence Certificate

The Department mission is structured around experiential-learning opportunities that underscore a need for multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to social problems, governance and policy, cultural identity and building diverse communities, conflict negotiation and participative democracy.  We aim

  1. to enable students to gain critical skills in order to analyze society and imagine and develop a praxis for social change, and
  2. to empower students to craft professional careers that enable the flourishing of commitments to public service, community leadership, and social justice.

Africana World Studies - BA Mission Statement 

The scope of the Africana-World Studies Department includes the continent of Africa and its diasporas in the Americas, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Asia, and Europe. The Africana World Studies major seeks to develop students' appreciation for the discipline's historical and ongoing emphasis on linking knowledge and practice, learning and service, community and campus, and academic excellence and social responsibility. The Department also seeks to provide students and the university community with an increased international and multicultural awareness of and sensitivity to issues of race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and gender and their role in the human community and human exchange. 


Africana World Studies - BA Goals 

  1. The major goals of the Africana-World Studies (AWS) program are: 
  2. To introduce and enhance student knowledge about people of African descent 
  3. The major goals of the Africana-World Studies (AWS) program are: 
  4. To introduce and enhance student understanding of major theories and theorists in  
  5. Africana-World Studies; 
  6. The major goals of the Africana-World Studies (AWS) program are: 
  7. To enable students to develop and sharpen their analytical and critical thinking skills; 
  8. The major goals of the Africana-World Studies (AWS) program are: To enable students to learn and employ various research methodologies as they relate to issues affecting people of African descent; 
  9. The major goals of the Africana-World Studies (AWS) program are: 
  10. To facilitate and enhance student writing, oral and technological presentation skills around issues affecting people of African descent. 


Africana World Studies-BA Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to write an intellectual history of Africana-World Studies. 
  2. Students will be able to use primary documents to form an argument about and within the discipline. 
  3. Students will be able to create and present a technology-based research project. 
  4. Students will be able to develop a research topic and survey. 
  5. Students will be able to develop interview questions and conduct and transcribe an ethnographic interview. 
  6. Students will be able to use a literature review to articulate an interdisciplinary perspective regarding a topic related to the experiences of people of African descent. 


Anthropology - BA Mission Statement  

The mission of the Anthropology Department is to actively engage students with questions about the biocultural nature of humans and the contexts that shape and transform human behavior and practices. We are committed to cultivating the knowledge and skills to participate in current debates within the public sphere and critically engage in creating a more just world. 


Anthropology - BA Goals 

  1. Foster a general understanding of the human condition through the integrated study of human evolution, biology, culture, and language in past and present human societies 
  2. Immerse students in various possibilities of engagement as public anthropologists. 
  3. Provide students with active learning opportunities and applied experiences inside and outside the classroom. 
  4. Support faculty efforts in teaching, research, and public engagement and service. 


Anthropology - BA Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Recognize the bio-cultural nature of the human condition through the study of human evolution, biology, language and culture in past and present societies. 
  2. Apply anthropological knowledge and skills to the study of past and present human problems. 
  3. Recognize possibilities of public engagement in anthropology from the perspective of social justice. 


Women and Gender Studies - BA Mission Statement  

Women's & Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary department that foregrounds feminist analysis, intersectionality and social justice as key elements of an integrated approach to the study of social relations, cultural identities, and economic and political institutions that shape human experience. The program emphasizes the study of race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity and nationality, and a social justice approach for the analysis of diversity and multiculturalism, inequality and oppression in local and global contexts. Through development of conceptual, analytical and critical thinking skills, the WGS program seeks to engage students in their personal, professional and public lives with issues of social change, activism and citizenship. 


Women and Gender Studies - BA Goals 

  1. Offer an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary academic program that engages students with community, civic issues and citizenship. 
  2. Develop conceptual, analytical and critical thinking skills and opportunities for experiential learning for the study of gendered lives and experiences 
  3. Engage feminist analyses that foregrounds the centrality of gender relations, emergence and reproduction of sexism and patriarchy, production of feminist knowledge and theories, women’s movements, and feminist methods of doing research 
  4. Employ an intersectional framework for the analysis of gender, race, class and sexuality (concepts), racism, sexism, homophobia/heterosexism (processes), and the organization of these processes in social institutions 
  5. Promote a social justice approach to issues of systemic oppression, resistance, change and activism locally and globally 
  6. Enhance student professional skills through in-class activities and civic engagement 


Women and Gender Studies - BA Student Learning Outcomes

After completing the Women’s and Gender Studies undergraduate program, students will be able to: 

  1. Discuss the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary scope of Women’s and Gender Studies as an academic discipline 
  2. Utilize key feminist analyses in historical and cross-cultural contexts and their impact on social institutions, social problems and social change. 
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sexuality in society 
  4. Examine the connections between oppression, sexism and patriarchy and address the need for a social justice approach in personal, professional, and public contexts 
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking skills to assess conditions that enable or inhibit individual and group resistance, agency and activism in local and transnational contexts