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Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership

Timeline of Significant Events

  • April 7, 2009
    Kalamazoo College receives $200,000 planning grant from the Arcus Foundation to prepare for the establishment of a social justice leadership center at the College. The grant represents a partnership between the College and the Foundation to further their joint commitment to social justice leadership in the Kalamazoo community and beyond. The grant will fund a planning process to take place during the spring and summer of 2009.
  • Fall 2009
    After months of study and discussion, a planning committee comprised of "K" students, faculty, staff, and outside experts finalize a report that focuses on four main points: a governance structure for a social justice leadership organization; mission, vision, and goals for such an organization; an exploration of best practices around the U.S.; and what success would look like for such an organization at the College.
  • December 2, 2009
    Kalamazoo College receives $2.1 million project grant from the Arcus Foundation to launch the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL). The Center will 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. The grant will fund the Center's programming for two years, as well as the hiring of an executive director, academic director, and support staff. Carol Anderson, "K" professor of religion becomes ACSJL interim director.
  • April 9, 2010
    Kalamazoo College receives $400,000 grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation to assist in the planning, development, and implementation of the curricula, programming, and learning opportunities for the ACSJL. Grant will also fund, for three years, the position of associate director, filled by Donna Lartigue, a former Kellogg Foundation program director. She will assist in day-to-day operations until a permanent executive director and academic director are hired. Nationwide searches for both are underway.
  • April 13, 2010
    Joia Mukherjee, M.D., medical director at Partners in Health, becomes the first in a series of pre-eminent leaders in social justice and human rights to be hosted by ACSJL on the Kalamazoo campus. Trained in internal medicine, pediatrics, and infectious disease, Dr. Mukherjee had spent the preceding months in Haiti hiring and mobilizing community health workers, and rebuilding Haiti's public sector to provide health care and other essential social services in the wake of the devastating earthquake. She speaks to an overflow audience in Dalton Theatre.
  • June 28, 2010
    Jaime M. Grant, Ph.D., becomes inaugural ACSJL executive director. She had worked for more than 20 years with a variety of national and international organizations focused on social justice and human rights for women, youth, and the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as victims of sexual and domestic assault, and people living with mental illness. Since Nov. 2007, she had served as director of the Policy Institute at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the nation's premiere LGBT think tank located in Washington, D.C.
  • July 23, 2010
    ACSJL hosts Building Pathways: Creating Access and Success for Native Students, a convening of scholars and practitioners to discuss ways to engage Native American students in institutions of higher education.
  • October 2010
    ACSJL hosts Leadership in a Changing World: A Conversation with National Awardees, a convening of three nationally known social justice leaders three days of dialogue and learning with the campus community.
  • November 2010
    ACSJL hosts Birth By Fire: Taking Our Passions Into Organizations, a convening of three social justice activists to discuss their paths from passionate grassroots activists to organizational leaders.
  • December 2010
    ACSJL hosts the inaugural Social Justice Faculty Colloquium, bringing together Kalamazoo College faculty and staff members with scholar-activists from around the country to imagine, explore, and discuss how to further infuse social justice throughout the Kalamazoo College curriculum.
  • Winter 2011
    Sarah Lindley (Associate Professor of Art) and Kiran Cunningham (Professor of Anthropology-Sociology) become the inaugural Arcus Social Justice Faculty Fellows. Faculty Fellowships provide numerous benefits to "K" faculty members, including time and resources to engage the College a social justice leadership project of their own design.

    As part of her fellowship, and with financial support from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Professor Lindley collaborates with senior "K" art majors, the Partners-in-Art service-learning program and a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow to establish community-based arts initiatives in a group studio space in downtown Kalamazoo. Ceramics projects associated with Lindley's spring 2012 introductory-level ceramics course have been additionally supported with grant funding from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and will be collaboratively designed with a number of community partner agencies.

    Professor Cunningham has helped re-established long term partnerships between "K" and universities and NGOs in Sierra Leone, in the wake of that country's brutal civil war. She led a delegation of "K" faculty and staff to Sierra Leone in December 2011 to work with counterparts at Njala and Freetown on collaborative capacity building projects in the areas of pedagogy, research, information technology, and strategic planning.
  • January 24, 2011
    ACSJL hosts Liberation is Only Possible, two events featuring three feminist activists and long-time collaborators.
  • February 2011
    ACSJL hosts Just Words: Poetry for Social Justice, a series of events showcasing poetry as a tool to create a discourse for social justice activism and to construct a means for both personal and social transformation. Co-sponsored by the College's Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning, and Fire, a Kalamazoo community-based historical arts and culture collaborative.
  • Spring 2011
    ACSJL Fellow Sandra J. Barnhill, an attorney and President of Foreverfamily based in Atlanta, Georgia joins Jaime Grant to co-teach a six-week open-enrollment Social Justice Fundamentals course for "K" students, faculty, staff, and Kalamazoo community members. Foreverfamily is a nonprofit organization that helps children with an incarcerated parent as they, their parents, caregivers, and extended families work to remain a family.
  • Spring 2011
    ACSJL Fellow David Addiss, MD, MPH, teaches Kalamazoo's first Epidemiology in Global Health course.
  • April 5, 2011
    Lisa Brock, Ph.D., becomes inaugural ACSJL academic director. Dr. Brock taught at Gettysburg (Pa.) College and Lake Forest (Ill.) College; taught and served as chair of the department of liberal arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and for the previous eight years served as chairperson of the department of humanities, history, and social sciences at Columbia College Chicago. She was co-editor and contributor to the book "Between Race and Empire: African Americans and Cubans Before the Cuban Revolution," and is currently completing her manuscript "Black in Two Americas: Comparative Identity, History and Struggle in Cuba and the United States." Brock also has been an anti-racist and international solidarity office for more than 20 years, working in Washington, D.C and Chicago, especially in the global anti-apartheid movement that led to the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of Apartheid.
  • May 3, 2011
    Nicholas Kristof, award-winning New York Times journalist and co-author of "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide," is the second speaker in ACSJL annual Spring Lecture series. He discusses the importance of social and economic empowerment of women to the promotion of human rights.
  • May 16, 2011
    ACSJL hosts Where There is Health, There is Hope, a three-day teach-in on public health innovations in Burundi featuring Deogratias Niyizonkiza and Dziwe Ntaba, co-founders and leadership partners of Village Health Works, a community-based health clinic in Kigutu, Burundi that practices and promotes socially just medicine and public health work.
  • May 17, 2011
    Kalamazoo College unveils preliminary designs for a new building to house the ACSJL, located at the campus's highest elevation on the southeast corner of Academy and Monroe streets. Drawings from Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects are shown to the College community and neighbors at a campus gathering. Construction will last an estimated 12 months, but no start date is set pending outcome of the College's campus master planning and rezoning process, anticipated in Spring 2012.
  • June 7, 2011
    After months of preparation and anticipation, Hoben House is moved to make way for the new building.
  • August 31, 2011
    Michelle S. Johnson, Ph.D. (Director, Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative in Kalamazoo), is named ACSJL Kalamazoo Community Leadership Fellow. The 20-week fellowship will be awarded annually to a social justice activist, scholar, or artist from the Kalamazoo community. Johnson will research, write, and conduct workshops and other events for the campus and local community on "just social play," an innovative approach to recreational play that aims to dismantle structural inequities and help build community.
  • September 2011

    Associate Professor of Journalism Marin Heinritz is exploring how the Kalamazoo Promise has impacted the lives of its recipients. Believing that equal access to education is imperative to a pursuit of social justice, Heinritz is researching the Kalamazoo Promise, as an approach toward a more socially just world. She is using her training and skills as a narrative journalist, journalism educator, and a Kalamazoo College academic resource director to tell the stories of Kalamazoo Promise students and the impact it has made on their lives.

    Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College launches “Theatre and Social Justice,” a year in collaboration with the ACSJL featuring a series of provocative, humorous, and innovative plays that unite performance, text, and design, while exploring what it means to live and not live in a socially just world.

  • October 2011
    Bob Fulkerson (Executive Director, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada) is named an Arcus Social Justice Fellow. During his three months on campus, he will offer workshops on personal ecology and leadership development, and create a Salon Series on dismantling racism and building stronger community ties.
  • Fall 2011

    ACSJL launches the Catalyst Project, a two-year community outreach initiative providing consulting and technical support to selected Kalamazoo-area social justice organizations. Assistance includes fund development, strategic planning, program design and evaluation, board development, team building, and more. Donna Lartigue is director.

  • January 7-8, 2012
  • ACSJL Academic Director Lisa Brock is among a handful of Americans invited to the African National
    Congress centennial celebration in South Africa where she joins Nelson Mandela’s family and leaders
    from around the world.

  • January 16, 2012
  • ACSJL brings Dr. Bernice Reagon, MacArthur Award Recipient and founder of award winning Sweet
    Honey and the Rock, and SNCC freedom Singers as keynote MLK Day speaker. Along with Dr. Michael
    Honey, she engages in “Faculty Dialogue” with Kalamazoo community members and faculty from “K,”
    MSU, and WMU.

  • January 17, 2012
    Kalamazoo College announces $23 million grant from the Arcus Foundation to endow the work of ACSJL.
  • Spring 2012
    ACSJL will launch the Praxis Center, an online resource center for scholars and practitioners of social justice work and leadership.