Social Justice in the Professions

Course Description

This course introduces students to the concept of social justice and key perspectives, problems, dreams and debates surrounding it. It also guides students to consider the professions they plan to pursue and ways in which professional values, practices and codes can intersect with social justice concerns, issues and activism. The course briefly surveys the history of the term social justice and highlights how it is understood by a range of political ideologies. It goes on to consider what it means to be a professional as well as ways in which professionals can cultivate ethical awareness and disposition toward social justice. In addition, the course examines in close detail a specific social justice movement. Finally, the course presents units exploring equality in relation to debates about distribution of resources; and identity in relation to the struggle of marginalized groups for social recognition.

Course Learning Goals

After completing this course, you will be able to:

Course Competencies

In this course, you will develop the following competence, if you are an Individualized Focus Area student:


Competence Statement and Criteria


Can analyze power relations among racial, social, cultural, or economic groups in the United States

Grades lower than a C- do not earn a credit or competence in the School for Continuing and Professional Studies.

Course Resources

Required Readings:

There is no hard copy textbook for this class. Instead, we will use a collection of readings posted on Electronic Reserve. The specific readings are listed below, under the Readings column in the Course Structure table.

How the Outcome will be Addressed in this Course:

In this course, you will develop the following outcomes:

Module 1

Better comprehend the term “social justice” and some of the key meanings, debates, histories and applications associated with it

Participate in two Discussion Conferences, each of which highlights Module 1 topics and  readings

Compose a journal entry on one  Module 1 reading

Begin work on Perspectives in Play Project, Part 1

Module 2

Thoughtfully consider professionalism and social justice practice as delineated by Calderwood

Draw up a profile of your projected profession, your possible role in it and its ethics code and/or ethical challenges

Complete Professional Profile assignment

Participate in two Discussion Conferences, each of which highlights Module 2 topics and readings

Complete Professional Profile assignment

Complete Difference Matrix assignment

Module 3

Understand and critically examine a specific social justice struggle in philosophical and historical context

Engage with key questions raised by same

Participate in two Discussion Conferences, each of which highlights Module 3 topics and readings

Complete Questions About King’s Letter assignment

Module 4

Display awareness of a range of perspectives on inequality (both economic and political) in US society

Show familiarity with some key debates about distribution of resources in US schools

Demonstrate acquaintance with some philosophical perspectives on the above

Participate in two Discussion Conferences, each of which highlights Module 4 topics and readings

Submit Perspectives in Play Project, Part 1

Compose journal entry on a Module 4 reading

Module 5

Understand what the terms “identity” and “recognition” denote in the context of discussions of multiculturalism and social justice

Recognize what movements around recognition seek

Thoughtfully consider whether such movements may conflict or harmonize with movements for redistribution

Engage with some issues raised by being identified as “Latino” in US society today

Participate in two Discussion Conferences, each of which highlights Module 5 topics and readings

Compose journal entry on a Module 5 reading

Submit Perspectives in Play Project, Part 2

Course Structure

This course consists of five modules. The estimated time to complete each module is one week.

To see course due dates, click on the Checklist link on the top navigation bar; This page contains module-specific checklists and due dates for the work due in the course.

The following table outlines the course:

Week,  Module # and Title



Week 1, Module 1: Social Justice: Perspectives

Module 1 Introduction & Overview

Sociology Guide, “Social Justice”

Mayer, “Social Justice”

Abramovitz & Lazzari, "What is Social Justice?"

Galbraith, "The Social Foundation"


Seeger, “I’m Gonna Be An Engineer”

Music & video here:

Lyric here:

1.1 Gonna Be An Engineer Discussion

1.2 The Good Samaritan & Moses Discussion

1.3 Journal Entry

4.3 Perspectives in Play Project, Part 1

Week 2, Module 2: Professions and Professionals

Module 2 Introduction & Overview

Calderwood, “Toward A Professional Community for Social Justice”

Cohen, “Should Tennessee Firemen Have Let the House Burn?”

Gregory, “Shame”

2.1 Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas Discussion

2.2 Professional Communities for Social Justice Discussion

2.3 Professional Profile

2.4 Difference Matrix

Week 3, Module 3: A Movement, A Leader, A Letter

Module 3 Introduction & Overview

Group of Clergymen, “A Letter to Martin Luther King”

King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

King, “Speech Transcription: Social Justice and the Emerging New Age”

Video: Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, episode 1: “Awakenings (1954-56)

3.1 Creative Maladjustment Discussion

3.2 “Only A Pawn in Their Game” Discussion

3.3 Questions About Dr. King’s Letter

5.4 Perspectives in Play Project, Part 2

Week 4, Module 4:Equality and Distribution

Module 4 Introduction & Overview

Kozol, Excerpts from Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools

Moyers, “This Is the Fight of Our Lives”

Kekes, “The Absurdity of Egalitarianism”

Anderson, “Against Luck Egalitarianism: What Is the Point of Equality?”

4.1 Two American Dreams? Discussion

4.2 Income Inequality: Does It Matter? Discussion

4.3 Perspectives in Play Project, Part 1

4.4 Journal Entry

Week 5, Module 5: Identity and Recognition

Martinez, “At the Crossroads: Latinos in the New Millennium”

Santa Ana, “Is There Such a Thing as Latino Identity?”

Cisneros, “Only Daughter”

Civil Rights Leadership Conference Education Fund, “Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America, 2009: Executive Summary”

Video: “Deportee” performed by Arlo Guthrie & Emmylou Harris

5.1 Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Discussion

5.2 Steve Kelley Cartoon Discussion

5.3 Journal Entry

5.4 Perspectives in Play Project, Part 2

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Point Distribution of Assessments

Assignments Points
10 Discussion Conferences 20
3 Journal Entries 9 (3 pts each)
Professional Profile Assignment 12
Difference Matrix Assignment 8
Questions About Dr. King’s Letter 24
Perspectives in Play Project, Part 1 12
Perspectives in Play Project, Part 2 15

Policy on Late Assignments and Discussion Posts

Due dates in the course are firm and must be adhered to if you expect to succeed. Written assignments and discussion posts that are late will receive reduced points. Written assignments and discussion posts that are more than two weeks late will receive zero points.

General Assessment Criteria for All Writing Assignments

All writing assignments are expected to conform to basic college-level standards of mechanics and presentation.

Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as–needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback–by–Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.

Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email. Obviously, the tutors won’t necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.

Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you’ll receive. To schedule a Face-to-Face, Written Feedback by Email, or Online Appointment, visit

Course Grading Scale

A = 95 to 100

A- = 91 to 94

B+ = 88 to 90

B = 85 to 87

B- = 81 to 84

C+ = 77 to 80

C = 73 to 76

C- = 69 to 72

D+ = 65 to 68

D = 61 to 64

F = 60 or below


Grades lower than a C- do not earn credit at the School for Continuing and Professional Studies.

Online Discussion

Assessment Criteria for Online Discussion Participation

Participation In the online discussions: your responses will be assessed on whether one or more of the following are present:

  1. Offering ideas or resources and inviting a critique of them
  2. Asking challenging questions
  3. Articulating, explaining and supporting positions on ideas
  4. Exploring and supporting issues by adding explanations and examples
  5. Reflecting on and re-evaluating personal opinions
  6. Offering a critique, challenging, discussing and expanding ideas of others
  7. Negotiating interpretations, definitions and meanings
  8. Summarizing previous contributions and asking the next question
  9. Proposing actions based on ideas that have been developed

The above list was adapted from Gilly Salmon’s book E-Moderating: The key to teaching and learning online.
London: Kogan Page: p.143 (2000).

When you respond to a classmate's post, refrain from simple phrases like, "Great ideas!" or "I like that." Refer to the 9 points above and use words like, "But," "Additionally," "I agree and," "However," "What about," etc.

Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums are an important component of your online experience. This course contains discussion forums related to the topics you are studying each week.

A Course Q & A discussion forum has also been established to manage necessary, ongoing social and administrative activities. This is where the management and administrative tasks of the course are conducted, and where you can ask 'process' questions and receive answers throughout the course. Please feel free to answer any question if you feel you know the answer; this sharing of information is valuable to other students.

Course Policies


College and University Policies

This course includes and adheres to the college and university policies described in the links below:

Academic Integrity Policy (UGRAD)

Academic Integrity Policy (GRAD)

Incomplete Policy

Course Withdrawal Timelines and Grade/Fee Consequences

Accommodations Based on the Impact of a Disability

Protection of Human Research Participants

APA citation format (GRAD)

Additional Course Resources

University Center for Writing-based Learning

SNL Writing Guide

Dean of Students Office

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary. If a change occurs, it will be clearly communicated to students.


This course was designed and produced by faculty and staff at SCPS of the School ffor Continuing and Professional Studies of DePaul University.

© School for Continuing and Professional Studies, DePaul University. All Rights Reserved by contractual interval with the Author.