Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership?

The mission of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL) is to support the pursuit of human rights and social justice by developing emerging leaders and sustaining existing leaders in the field of human rights and social justice, creating a pivotal role for liberal arts education in engendering a more just world.

Our vision is to locate Kalamazoo College at the forefront of leadership development for human rights and social justice. In pursuit of this vision, we will model a just and sustainable community. By realizing this vision, we will help bring about a world in which every person's life is equally valued, the inherent dignity of all people is recognized, the opportunity to develop one’s full potential is available to every person, and systematic discrimination and structural inequities have been eradicated.

The ACSJL is nonpartisan and nonsectarian, seeking to engage a rich diversity of individuals, groups, and perspectives in its activities.

Why is a social justice leadership center a good fit for Kalamazoo College?

The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership fits into the College’s history of educational progressivism, innovation and social responsibility. The College’s K-Plan prepares graduates to provide enlightened leadership in a diverse and complex world, and one of the core missions of the ACSJL is to train future leaders in the social justice fields through community-based, experiential learning and service.

What will the Arcus Foundation grant support?

From endowed professorships to scholarships and grants to financing campus visits by scholars and leaders in the field of social justice, the grant will support a wide array of scholarship, service and learning, including:

  • Two endowed faculty chairs in areas related to social justice. Chairs are currently held by John Dugas in political science and Adriana Garriga-Lopez in anthropology-sociology;
  • Fellowships for K faculty and staff to support projects and scholarship related to social justice leadership;
  • Four-year Enlightened Leadership Scholarships ($5,000 per year) awarded to one K student each year, currently held by Colin Lauderdale ’14 and Mariah Hennen ’15;
  • Annual Social Justice Fellowships for visiting scholars, activists, artists, thought leaders, and faculty, as a way to introduce new scholarship, energy, and social justice activity and engagement to the Kalamazoo College campus and the Kalamazoo community. Fellowships are currently held by Michelle Johnson from Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative in Kalamazoo, and Irfana Majumdar, a scholar/artist in experimental theater based at the NIRMAN program in Varanasi, India;
  • An annual spring lecture series (The 2012 lecturer will be playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler, perhaps best known as the author of The Vagina Monologues.);
  • A Social Justice Leadership Fund that provides grants to students, faculty, and staff who propose innovative social justice projects and programs;
  • A summer internship program that offers qualified K students the opportunity to integrate social justice theory with practice as interns at social justice organizations across the United States and abroad;
  • The Catalyst Project, a community-outreach and support initiative providing consulting and technical support to selected Kalamazoo-area social justice organizations; and
  • The Praxis Center, an online resource center for scholars and practitioners of social justice work and leadership that will be launched later in 2012.

    How will the ACSJL benefit the College?

    The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership puts Kalamazoo on the map as a leader in the training, development, and support of social justice leaders and ideas and programs that seek to advance equity and human rights.

    The $23 million grant will help make K College and the ACSJL a local, national and international hub for social justice work, planning and education, bringing together leaders from across the region, nation, and world to educate, collaborate, and innovate with students, faculty, and staff on the most pressing social justice issues of the day.

    The grant, from the Arcus Foundation, is one of the largest-ever gifts to an undergraduate institution in the United States for a social justice purpose, and will help the College attract the most curious, motivated students who care deeply about making a difference in the world.

    How will the ACSJL benefit K students?

    Whether through internships, research, and scholarship, or working collaboratively with local, national, and international leaders, there will be incredible opportunities – in both number and scope – for students at ‘K’ College to use the resources of the ACSJL. The ACSJL’s mission will be infused across all departments, enabling students who are studying any discipline to engage in social justice practice and learning.

    How will the ACSJL benefit K faculty?

    Faculty members at K have a variety of opportunities to interact with the ACSJL depending on their particular focus and interest. The Center will support scholarly work and research in human rights, social justice, sexual orientation and gender identity, poverty eradication, and other challenges across a range of disciplines. Faculty members and their students can put theory into practice in the field, as a way to refine and test their thinking. With the help and resources of the ASCJL, opportunities for curricular innovation and collaboration will abound, creating a more rich educational experience for students.

    How will the ACSJL benefit the greater Kalamazoo community?

    Human rights and social justice organizations in the Kalamazoo community will play a significant role in the overall mission of the ACSJL.

    Agencies that serve the poor, and promote equity and justice will become the laboratories where students and others learning through ACSJL programming will put their knowledge to work. These agencies will benefit not only from the motivated, creative students and other ACSJL participants who will be engaged in programs there, but by the resources that will be made available to them through the ACSJL.

    The mission of the ACSJL will be fully realized through the significant cooperation and collaboration of area agencies and the Kalamazoo community at large.