Click HERE for a list of abstracts and bios of the conference speakers.
Friday, April 29
9:15-11:15 Foundations and Variations of Social Justice: Theory, Morality, and Human Rights
The purpose of this session is to illuminate the philosophical, theoretical, and conceptual foundations and dimensions of social justice. To do so, it is necessary to address the spectrum of positions that have been formulated with regard to the meaning(s) of “social justice” and the multiplicity of functions the concept fulfills both in academia and the public sphere. Inevitably, it also is necessary to relate the specific socio-historical context that it reflects and at the same time is intended to thematize as the frame of reference that presents both opportunities to advance social justice, and hurdles that make it difficult to promote social justice effectively, both intellectually and practically. Put differently, without recognition of modern societies as integrated structures of political, economic, and social power and inequality, it would be difficult (perhaps impossible) to consider strategies to advance social justice in a discernible and lasting manner.
Justice as Fairness and Higher Education
David Reidy, Department of Philosophy, UTK
The Promise of International Law in Developing a Global Foundation for Social Justice
Robert Blitt, College of Law
Theorizing Social Justice in a Time Fraught with Contradictions
Harry F. Dahms, Department of Sociology, UTK
11:30-12:30 Keynote Address, Co-Constructing Democratic Knowledge for Social Justice: Lessons from an International Research Collaborative, John Gaventa, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK
- Professor and Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies in England. He is a member of the Participation, Power and Social Change team and Director of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. He has written widely on issues of power, participatory development and governance, civil society and social change
1:45-3:30 Social Justice and Globalization
With the intensification of globalization, the polarization of social inequalities, such as race/ethnonational, class, and gender, are increasing and leading to a serious crisis both in the Global North and Global South. Since universities are still dominated by old intellectual paradigms, the academia is not yet ready to fully and critically assess these globally crises and problems in order to suggest appropriate policies to solve them. Using the concept of social justice as promoting a single standard for humanity and challenging the liberal theories of social justice and human rights, this panel addresses these complex issues. Specifically, the panelists explore the intersections between their various forms of research and issues of social justice on local, regional and global levels without being limited by the theories and practices of the nation-states in the capitalist world system.
Indigenous Peoples and the Capitalist World System: Researching, Knowing, and Promoting Social Justice
Asafa Jalata, Department of Sociology and Africana Studies Program, UTK
From Domination to “Buen Vivir”: Latin America and Contested Globalizations
Michael Handelsman, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literature, UTK
Globalization, Neo-fascism and Immigration
William Robinson, Sociology, Global Studies, and Latin American Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
3:45-5:45 Economic Crises and the Future Of Public Higher Education
The 2008 financial crisis caused shockwaves throughout the US economy. Among the casualties are local and state public finances. Many cities and states are now bracing for bankruptcy, and the fiscal crisis of the state threatens many basic public services. Public universities are caught in the middle of this crisis, and many will have to increase tuition -- essentially dispersing the debt burden onto individuals to pay at a later date. All of this is occurring within the context of a much longer and systemic corrosion of the university's primary function as an educational institution. For over 30 years, public universities have gradually responded to market pressures, and increasingly, students and professors are being treated as consumers and commodities. This long-term structural weakness within US public higher education has led to a pedagogical narrowing of what is considered "productive" knowledge. As the shockwaves of the recession continue to put further pressure on the fiscal bases of the public university, an understanding and reckoning with the mediating effects of these short-term and long-term crises will have significant bearing on the future of education, and ultimately democracy itself.
Stratification, Segmentation and Fragmentation in American Universities
Sheila Slaughter, Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia
The End of Philosophy of Education?
Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Dept. of Educational Psychology and Counseling, UTK
University Social Engagement as a Space for Resistance and Revitalization
Felix Bivens, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
7:00- Keynote Address: Envisioning Real Utopias, Eric Olin Wright, University of Wisconsin
Erik Olin Wright
Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Wright is the President Elect of the American Sociological Association and series editor of the Real Utopias Project. The Real Utopias Project focuses on egalitarian change through the fundamental redesign of basic social and economic institutions.
Saturday, April 30
9:00-11:00 Teaching (for) Social Justice
"Social justice" is a politically charged phrase, particularly in the context of education. Some argue that social justice education is an important component of responsible citizenship, while others contend that such practices interfere with an open exchange of ideas. Additionally, educators must consider barriers to teaching (for) social justice that extend beyond the learning space, including the broader sociopolitical environment, as well as our own ideologies and those of our students or co-learners.
Organizing for Social Justice and the University
Walter Davis, Executive Director of the National Organizers Alliance
Teaching Spaces: A Critical Reflection on Using Spatial Exploration Exercises as Teaching Tools
Maria Stehle, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literature, UTK
Social Justice in the Classroom: Challenges, Techniques, and Goals in Teaching Social Justice
Ben Feldmeyer, Department of Sociology, Bill Taylor, Ph.D. student, Department of Sociology, Katie Morris, Ph.D. student, Department of Sociology
1:00-3:00 Action and Activism
The university has served as a site for social change and as a conserving force for privilege. This panel emphasizes the importance of acting from and upon the university to promote social justice, and highlights the often complex relationships between social change actors, the university, and the broader community.
Labor Unions and Higher Education: Institutions of Social Justice
Tom Anderson, United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America
The Role of Students in Promoting Social Change On Campus And In The Community
Reagan Richmond, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Climate Change and Intergenerational Justice
John Nolt, Department of Philosophy
Universities and Activism for Social Justice: What’s Power Got to Do with It?
Fran Ansley, Professor Emeritus, College of Law, UTK
3:15-5:15 Universities and Communities: Addressing Constituencies
Historically seen as a self-contained ivory tower, universities have often had an uneasy relationship with the cities in which they are located. Many universities have worked to create more reciprocal relationships through outreach projects, service-learning, and collaboration with community groups. Our aim is for panelists to discuss the unique challenges and possibilities of social justice as a basis for university-community partnerships. Below are some of the questions that have arisen for us as we consider this relationship. We invite panelists to reflect on one or more of these topics as they relate to your own work.
- Social Justice Manifest: University-Community Outreach Research to Reduce Homelessness
David Patterson, College of Social Work and Knoxville Homeless Management Information System (KnoxHMIS) and Stacia West, KnoxHMIS data analyst
What is “Community Engagement,” and What’s it Doing in My (Top 25) Coffee?
Elizabeth Burman, UTK Campus Coordinator for Outreach and Engagement
Can Universities Work in the Community with Integrity?
Denise Bates, Department of Public Health and Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence, UTK
The Role of Law School Clinics in University Social Justice Work
Benjamin Barton, Director Clinical Programs, College of Law, UTK
6:45: Keynote Address, Is a New Popular Movement for Social Justice Emerging in the United States?, Frances Fox Piven, CUNY Graduate Center
Frances Fox Piven
Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center. Dr. Piven is an expert in urban politics, voting rights, and the development of the welfare state. Dr. Piven is one of the foremost political sociologists in the country, having written influential work on protest, the welfare state, and voting. Dr. Piven is also a past-president of the American Sociological Association. She is cofounder of Human SERVE (Service Employees Registration and Voter Education), an organization that worked to increase voter registration among underrepresented and low-income populations.