Iowa State 'Social Justice Summit' aims to 'eliminate oppression of all'

Iowa State University will hold its 16th annual “Social Justice Summit” this month, offering students a day-and-a-half workshop to explore “strategies for implementing social change.”

“The Social Justice Summit . . . is an event designed for undergraduate students aimed at providing them with the opportunity to increase their awareness surrounding issues of inclusion and to develop action plans that will assist them in being agents of change on campus,” the university states on its website.

“Social justice is the continuous process of eliminating ignorance and prejudice through education and advocacy to bring about greater equity among all members of society and ensuring every dimension of identity is not oppressed by society as a whole,” the page explains. “Social justice is a process in which we strive to eliminate the roots of oppression through education and the redistribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities.”

[RELATED: OSU holds segregated retreats to build racial tolerance]

The 2016 Summit will be held on February 19 and 20, and is free to all ISU students who register in advance. Overseeing the excursion will be staff from the Student Activities Center, the Department of Residence, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Margaret Sloss Women's Center, as well as faculty from the Social Justice Certificate program in the School of Education.

The “Education for Social Justice Graduate Certificate” is a 12-credit course of study open to graduate students in any discipline that “offers a range of topical and methodological vantage points to study social justice and education.” The certificate requires completion of ELPS 620: Education for Social Justice, along with 9 other credits taken from a list of pre-approved courses, such as “Antiracist Curriculum Development and Implementation” and “Social Justice and Social Change in Education.”

ISU builds on those concepts with the Social Justice Summit, stating on its website that “in the pursuit of social justice we must use education as a tool to empower the people so that we can eliminate the oppression of all,” and proceeding to list six related goals for Summit attendees.

First, organizers hope to allow participants “to learn from each other in a safe environment and diverse setting,” particularly with regard to “’who they are’ and ‘what they bring’ to the ISU campus.”

[RELATED: U. of Vermont holds privilege retreat for students who ‘self-identify as white’]

They also aspire to “provide opportunities for students to develop personal goals and an action plan in the areas of diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice,” and to “build coalitions with students ‘similar to’ and ‘different from’ themselves to achieve mutual goals for social change.”

Finally, ISU wants students to “create specific action steps as a group in order to have short term and long term goals,” and to reflect on their action plans following the Summit.

Campus Reform reached out to the Summit’s organizers for additional details about the event, but did not receive a response by press time.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @FrickePete