Social Justice Institute

Think Justice 2.0: A Global Perspective

Philander Smith College is currently engaged in a process to re-imagine its current Social Justice Institute with two critical thought-partners: The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Auburn Theological Seminary. The three organizations have conducted a series of community-based focus groups, strategy sessions and site-based meetings to develop a framework for the expansion of social justice work at the Philander Smith College. The teams are focused on solidifying a strengthened mission, vision, and draft curriculum, as well as a working definition of social justice and an implementation timeline. Think Justice 2.0, with an anticipated launch in Spring 2017, will comprise an expanded regional footprint for justice-related programs and initiatives.  

A History of the Social Justice Institute

Philander Smith College launched the Social Justice Institute (SJI) in August of 2007 under the leadership and vision of then-President Walter M. Kimbrough, the College's twelfth president. With support and backing from faculty, alumni, students and the Board of Trustees, Philander Smith College changed its mission "to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better." This re-crafting of the College's mission was an overt nod to Philander Smith's history, which has always had a social justice focus, as well as its commitment to the social principles of the United Methodist Church.

Following the adoption of of the institution's mission, other critical milestones included:

  • The inclusion of special guest speakers and justice themes for Opening Convocation.
  • Inviting Bless The Mic lecturers who are renowned for their noteworthy activism.
  • The creation of the Ozell Sutton Medal of Justice.
  • The infusion of social justice themes in the Freshman Colloquium Curriculum.
  • Increase of justice-related internships for students.
  • Changing the College's physical street address to honor social justice activist Daisy L. Gatson Bates.
  • The founding of the student organization "The Social Justice League."
  • Black Male Engagement (BMe)