This course explores theories of social justice and equity, with a strong focus on Indigenous peoples and the north. It presents the main theoretical schools of thought in the field of social justice, and students will be asked to consider: what is social justice? what constitutes a just society? how is equity to be achieved in a culturally pluralistic society? how do these questions intersect with theoretical schools of race, gender, ability, colonization, Eurocentrism, and educational and economic opportunity? how do we promote a socially just society?

Theories of Social Justice

Dr. Kristin Burnett


The aim of this course is to provide an overview of the major schools of feminist theory, and to equip students integrate feminist theory into a variety of disciplines.

Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for the better working conditions....for safety on the streets...for child care, for social welfare...for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reform in the laws. If someone says ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist,’ I ask “Why? What’s your problem?"

                                     Dale Spender, For                                             the Record: The                                                   Making and                                                         Meaning of Feminist                                           Knowledge

Theories of Womens Studies

Dr. Jennifer Roth


In this course, we will undertake a critical analysis of the questions “what is a woman?” and “what is an animal?” to examine the ways that women and animals have been constructed, objectified, and entangled in social and cultural practices. We will consider the discourses and material consequences of Western ethics, science, consumption, and entertainment as they relate to gender and species. In doing so, an aim is for you to develop responses that move beyond biological determinism, and to develop a feminist consciousness that does not draw a line at the human boundary. 

Sex, Gender and Species

Dr. Jan Oakley


Just as socially engaged artists have transformed the contemporary art world, so too have activists used creative means to express social inequalities in public protest. Looking at many different public art projects, we will discuss the branches of intersectional theory and analyze social factors that oppress groups in our society. We will also look at the importance of ‘praxis’ in social justice studies; both the theoretical tenets of thinking critically, as well as artistically engaged practices that convey social justice messages to the broader public. Theoretical themes include the politics of representation, decolonization, feminist criticism, affect theory, avant-garde representation, and the transference of private art to public protest. The definition of ‘art’ in this course is wide-reaching, as we analyze sculpture, painting, installation, artistic activist movements, collage, graffiti, performance art, experimental film, PhotoVoice, musical and theatre arts, art therapy, dance, and photography (among many other artistic mediums). 

Theories and Practices of Art and Social Justice

Dr. Miranda Niittynen

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 3.44.38 PM.png

This course will review feminist research methodologies from a variety of disciplinary traditions and theoretical perspectives. We will explore feminist perspectives on research as a process and a product, and the potential of feminist research for transformation and social change. Examples from the disciplinary range of our WS specialization will provide the foundation for our weekly discussions. The objectives this semester are to provide students with a foundational understanding of the principles guiding contemporary feminist methodology, and to enhance students’ skills and confidence in conducting research through practical research exercises and reflective class presentations.

Methods in Womens Studies

Dr. Pamela Wakewich


This course is designed to explore arts-integrated approaches and its connection to community engagement. The course will explore the theory related to the intersections of arts-based methods, social justice, and art activsm, with emphasis on how these arts-based methods can be educative of social justice issues in marginalized communities.The course will also demonstrate the effectiveness of using the Parallaxis Praxis Model to generate an original artefact, in response to various research projects. This will further portray how the visual arts can facilitate positive social change. Involvement in the Prenatal Knowledge Exchange for Equity in Birthing Experience and Outcomes grant will facilitate the course objectives.

Directed Study: Art Based Social Change

Dr. Pauline Sameshima

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 5.43.51 PM.png

The meaning and value of motherhood/mothering has been a topic of passionate personal and political debate for centuries. The framework of reproductive justice includes the right to have, or not have a child, as well as the right to parent one’s child in a safe environment. In this course we will interrogate how the right to parent - or, specifically the right to mother - is understood and taken up in both local, national and international contexts. We will examine emergent feminist scholarship on motherhood, with particular attention paid to the distinction between motherhood as a social imperative, or “patriarchal institution” (as described by Adrienne Rich), and the agential practice of mothering as defined by feminist scholars (Andrea O’Reilly, Fiona Green and others). From this theoretical grounding, we will explore constructions of the good vs. bad mother, conceptual and legal definitions of personhood, childless/child-free women, nationalism, neoliberalism, technology and the future of mothering. Particular attention is paid to intersectionality and the ways in which race, class, sexuality, ability, and ethnicity come to bare on the practice of mothering. In this course, we take as a given our collective relationship to motherhood/mothering (as mothers, daughters, sons, partners, humans) and seek to explore our own positionally with greater depth and analysis. 

Mother Culture: Constructions of Motherhood in Contemporary Culture

Dr. Jennifer Chisholm