Ten years ago, the Case Western Reserve University Social Justice Institute was established to advance a critical mission: Examine the root causes of social injustice and develop innovative solutions—striving to create a just world.

The Social Justice Institute (SJI) supports and facilitates social critique and civic engagement through events, community collaborations, participation in policy development, research and activism. In addition, the institute offers an undergraduate minor, courses, grants and fellowship opportunities.

This university-wide initiative, which now falls under the Office of the Provost, brings together educators, researchers and innovators to combine their skills and devise multifaceted solutions to complex issues, partnering with the various schools and interdisciplinary centers to amplify their work and their voices.

Recognizing the SJI 10th anniversary 

Rhonda Williams founded the Social Justice Institute in 2010 to create a space where the university could elevate critical conversations, discuss tough issues and make social justice part of everyday thinking and framework, ensuring the university and community are poised to better understand the role of education, development and policy in achieving social change and equality.

Photo of Rhonda Williams walking in a protest with police cars behind her
Rhonda Williams

To recognize the 10th anniversary, the Social Justice Institute is hosting a two-day virtual event. Williams will open the weekend with her keynote address, “Breathe! Resist! Live!,” on Friday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. Social Justice Institute Co-Directors Ayesha Bell Hardaway and Mark Chupp also will share their vision for the future of SJI.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, inspiring speakers from across Case Western Reserve and the community will provide insights on the social justice issues of today and opportunities for advancement going forward, covering topics such as mass incarceration, redlining, protesting and the media, decolonization, democracy and immigration. Former Co-Directors Tim Black and John Flores will be among the presenters.

Learn more about the events and register.

Vision for the future

In May, Bell Hardaway and Chupp were named the new co-directors of the Social Justice Institute. Bell Hardaway is assistant professor at the School of Law and director of the Social Justice Law Center. Chupp is assistant professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. He also serves as the chair of the Concentration in Community Practice for Social Change Network and founding director of the Community Innovation Network. 

Under their leadership, the Social Justice Institute’s efforts directly align with the university’s Think Big Strategic Plan, advancing commitments to social justice and racial equity that will transform Case Western Reserve and its place in the community. 

Upcoming goals for the Social Justice Institute include working to ensure police services on campus align with community standards in a way that makes all people feel safe and welcome; conducting research designed to understand disparities within the criminal justice system on a local, state and national level; intentionally creating strong partnerships locally and across the country designed to secure the liberation of the marginalized and oppressed; and working with university development experts to ensure SJI’s sustained presence on campus and access to critical resources necessary for this impactful work.

Building on the foundation set forth over the last 10 years, the Social Justice Institute will continue to host important educational forums, raise awareness of social injustice, strengthen relationships with the community, support social justice scholarship, leverage the expertise of faculty, staff and community activists, and develop the leaders of tomorrow.