The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Social Justice: Race, Class, Gender, Ability*

Whether writers depict injustice as arising from constraining social identities, from institutional practices, or from human nature itself, engaging with their work can be a step toward justice itself. The courses in this specialization take that step as they explore the ways novels, poems, speeches, songs, and essays cast a spotlight on injustices and help us imagine a more just world.

Some courses also take a further step and provide opportunities for students to work outside the classroom and seek justice through community service.  These opportunities can be found in the English Department but also in such programs as Civic Engagement and Service-Learning.

Although most English courses could be construed as dealing with SJ, the SJ letter is meant to go beyond the major and to build additional knowledge and skill.  For this reason, SJ courses should primarily be electives, not courses already required for the major.

*The identities included in this specialization are not limited to these four and may well extend to other forms of oppression within American society or societies worldwide.

Requirements (4 courses)

Students graduating after December 2021 must complete a minimum of 4 courses with a minimum of grade of ‘C’.** Students may take only one course at the 200-level; the other three must be at the 300-level or above. One course may be outside the English Department with approval from one of the SJ faculty advisors listed below.  In addition, per approval, a social justice internship may count in lieu of a course if it carries a minimum of 3 credits.  

  • 1 course at the 200-level or higher
  • 3 courses at the 300-level or higher

**Students graduating before December 2021 may continue with their original course plan. 

For further information, contact one of the Directors of the Social Justice specialization: