The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Social Responsibility: M.S.

First Advisor

Stephen Philion

Second Advisor

Sudarshana Bordoloi

Third Advisor

Edward Greaves

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Social Justice, Social Theory, Social Change



Students entering postsecondary academic social justice programs are told they will gain the tools to become potent agents of social change. However, given the relative novelty of social justice as an academic field, there remains a lack of clarity about what exactly social justice encompasses. What principles of inquiry, theory, and practice unify social justice as an academic field? Is there a consistent, coherent conceptualization of social justice and social change agency among social justice faculty? Are there social-historical conditions that foster the development of social justice programs in universities? These questions guided this research project.

The evidence, based on analyses of social justice faculty syllabi, publications, reading lists, and interviews, suggests that academic social justice programs are rooted in a postmodern worldview that emphasizes fragmentation, identity, and solipsism. Furthermore, the development of academic social justice programs appears to be rooted in an adaptation by universities (or departments within universities) to neoliberal adjustments to the world economy by using social justice programs to capture market shares of students. The postmodern direction taken by faculty allows for subversive language and posturing without seriously disrupting the core antagonisms of capitalism.



Nothing about this project, neither the reading, research, nor writing, would be possible without the resilience of my mother, the patience and intellectual guidance of Stephen Philion, and the enduring love and longsuffering of Amanda (whose intelligence, wit, and heart guided the better parts of this project-and the better parts of my life!), Ivo (whose generosity of spirit reveals the better parts of humanity), and Ezra (whose joyful exuberance rejuvenates our entire family).



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