Pathways to Social Justice

The Pathways to Social Justice Curriculum

Georgetown’s Pathways to Social Justice (PSJ) curriculum prepares students to critically analyze historical and contemporary power differentials. A cornerstone of this requirement is the one-credit University Seminar in Race, Power, and Justice, which is designed to ensure that every student at Georgetown develops a baseline vocabulary for discussing racial difference and marginalization. This seminar will provide the foundation for each student’s engagement with other PSJ-attributed “overlay” courses offered across Georgetown’s Main Campus. Starting in Fall 2024, every Georgetown student must take two three-credit PSJ overlay courses prior to graduation.

By fulfilling the Pathways to Social Justice requirement, students will gain a better understanding of how social, political, geographic, economic, and other cultural factors shape experiences of the world, as well as how these factors contribute to marginalization and inequality. PSJ courses will also explore how communities have resisted marginalization, and will focus on axes of identity that have formed the basis for historical and contemporary marginalization and oppression, including race, gender, class, caste, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

For Faculty: Pathways to Social Justice Course Application

As instructors design their courses, they should consider five separate “Instructional Priorities” that lie at the center of the Pathways to Social Justice curriculum. Each overlay course bearing the Pathways to Social Justice attribute must meaningfully incorporate at least three of the five instructional priorities listed below.

Priority 1: Inclusive Scholarship
This priority encourages courses to foreground the scholarship of intellectuals who have historically been marginalized from fields of academic study.

Priority 2: Intersectional Approaches to Identity
The Intersectional Approaches to Identity priority applies to courses that examine how identity develops along multiple axes (e.g. race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, nationality, immigrant and refugee status, etc.) in relation to structures of power.

Priority 3: Historical Legacies of Inequality and Their Contemporary Impacts
Looking to the past is crucial for understanding our current conditions. This priority highlights courses that explore historical phenomena that have generated and intensified inequality, including slavery, colonialism, imperialism, migration, and patriarchy. Courses should consider how historical inequalities persist in the present, and how the recurrence of inequality over time informs the understanding of justice today.

Priority 4: National, Regional, and Global Comparisons
This priority seeks to foreground how specific national, regional, and global contexts shape power relations and visions of justice. In these courses, students will make connections between other regions or nations of the world and their own. In this way, courses should foster an appreciation of how individuals, cultures, and societies—especially non-European societies—have negotiated power relations in the pursuit of justice, and how those lessons may apply to students’ own pursuits.

Priority 5: Imagining Justice
This priority highlights how historically exploited communities have developed ways of thought, being, and social systems that resist oppression, heal from trauma, and seek justice. Courses that meet this priority will offer students a deeper appreciation of scholarship that details strategies used to survive and, perhaps, overcome systemic and structural oppression.

University Seminar in Race, Power, and Justice

Beginning in the 2024-25 academic year, all new undergraduates at Georgetown University will be required to take UNXD 1200 Race, Power, and Justice at Georgetown as the foundation of the new Pathways to Social Justice curriculum requirement. This one-credit course will be offered four times per year, twice in the fall semester and twice in the spring semester. Each session of the course will meet twice per week for six weeks, and will be graded on a pass/fail basis. It will be taught by a diverse, interdisciplinary team of faculty from all of Georgetown’s undergraduate schools, including GU-Q.

Justice is one of Georgetown’s core values. It is central to the idea of “Faith That Does Justice” and informs other key concepts, especially “Community in Diversity,” “Interreligious Understanding,” and “People for Others.” But what is justice, and what does it have to do with Georgetown and its students? These are urgent and timely questions, as the university community reckons with our history, confronts pressing crises of injustice all around us, and works to imagine a more just future on local, national, and global scales. 

This course begins at home, with issues of race, power, and justice connected to Georgetown itself. The course will introduce students to the university’s history and situate Georgetown in relation to its neighbors, the United States, and world. Students will hear from university experts and discover resources that address issues of race, power, and justice at Georgetown. The course will model constructive conversations on difficult issues with people who have differing perspectives.

A pilot version of the course will be offered in the Spring 2024 semester to give students currently at Georgetown an opportunity to take the class and help make it the best possible course for future cohorts of Hoyas.

Faculty who want their courses to count for Pathways to Social Justice credit must submit a short application form by February 15, 2024.

Pathways to Social Justice Course Application

The Oversight Committee will notify instructors of the approval status of their proposed Pathways course prior to the start of student registration. Per the curriculum guidelines ratified by MCEF in 2023, please note that the final syllabi for approved PSJ overlay courses must include a version of the following statement for enrolled students:

This course is designed to fulfill the Pathways to Social Justice requirement in the context of [insert unit/discipline]. This course will complement the foundation provided by the Seminar in Race, Power, and Justice at Georgetown by engaging with the concepts and language you learn in that course and deepening your understanding and application of those concepts as they apply to [insert this course’s subject matter].

In this course, we will focus on the following instructional priorities of the Core Requirement: [three of the five priorities above should be listed here; a brief statement of the rationale for each should be included].

Approved PSJ overlay courses for Fall 2024 will be released following the Oversight Committee’s review period in February.

Pathways to Social Justice Curriculum Oversight Committee

Brian Hochman (chair), Hubert J. Cloke Director of American Studies, College of Arts and Sciences

Katherine Chandler, Associate Professor, School of Foreign Service

Patricia Grant, Senior Associate Dean, School of Business

Javier Jimenez Westerman, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Adanna Johnson, Associate Vice President for Student Equity and Inclusion

Shareen Joshi, Associate Professor, School of Foreign Service

Ivana Komunjer, Professor of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences

Amanda Phillips, Associate Professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences

Carla Shedd, Associate Professor of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences

Myriam Vuckovic, Associate Professor of Global Health, School of Health