Concordia University

https://www.concordia.ca/content/concordia/en/artsci/research/social-justice-centre/about.html

ABOUT THE CENTRE

The Social Justice Centre facilitates research on social justice issues. We seek to promote collaboration and dialogue between researchers in different disciplines.

Through pooling funds and expertise, we organize and co-fund events on topics related to social justice such as intensive research workshops, conferences and public talks. Our full-time coordinator supports Concordia researchers by providing logistical support for their events.

While we are primarily a resource for faculty, we also support students by providing graduate fellowships. Graduate students who carry out a project under the supervision of an affiliated faculty member are eligible to apply for these stipends.

Our new Postdoc in Social Justice is designed to attract international, highly qualified, early-career researchers to Concordia. We hope to offer more postdoctoral positions in the future.

Our goal is to synergize Concordia’s extensive expertise on social justice to further stimulate research, create collaborations between faculty members and connect them with scholars from other institutions in Canada and abroad.

Mission

Our mission is to investigate the ‘What?’, ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ questions of social justice: What is social justice? Why does it matter? How might it be achieved?

We want to understand why there is poverty, economic inequality, political domination, gender oppression, racism, indifference to the plight of foreigners and future generations and other forms of unjustified discrimination. We want to explain why these kinds of situations involve injustice and propose a path forward.

Exploring these questions requires input from many academic disciplines. We currently have more than 80 affiliated faculty from 27 departments exploring social justice issues from a variety of perspectives.

Social justice is related to the distribution of wealth, power, opportunities, and privileges within a society as well as across societies. It is closely connected to economic and socio-political issues such as distributive justice, poverty, income and wealth inequalities, political participation and representation, as well as discrimination faced by people because of their gender, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.

We support social justice research by helping scholars with:

  • Event organization and funding
  • Research presentation (as public lectures or work-in-progress sessions)
  • Graduate student fellowships
  • Bringing postdoctoral researchers and visiting scholars to Concordia to increase collaboration between institutions.

History

The Social Justice Centre developed from a network of Concordia faculty members whose research connects to social justice. It started as a CISSC’s working group on social justice founded by Pablo Gilabert, Katharina Nieswandt and Mary Esteve.

In 2017, we held a reading group on the landmark book Envisioning Real Utopias by Erik Olin Wright, a leading sociologist and former president of the American Sociological Association. We invited the author for a debate and held a lively public discussion on his exploration of participatory democracy and social justice in the contemporary world.

Our CISSC working group also held brown-bag lunches during which our members introduced their research in the form of short informal presentations.

Our 2018 conference “Must surfers still be fed? Basic income and its philosophical justification after thirty years” featured philosopher and political economist Philippe Van Parijs, an emeritus professor at the University of Louvain and visiting professor at Harvard, on universal basic income—the proposal to give every resident an unconditional and regular cash transfer to keep them out of poverty and able to choose freely how to shape their own lives. The idea is gaining traction around the world as well as in Ontario and Quebec. As one of the best-known theorists on the topic, Van Parijs attracted many participants from Concordia and other universities in Montreal to this CISSC Happening.

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