Education and Social Justice

Many students at Western are interested in working with children and youth in a variety of settings to foster social justice. This program will provide students, who may or may not be seeking teacher certification, the opportunity to study about how to address equity issues in a variety of educational settings.

The Education and Social Justice (ESJ) Minor integrates theory and practice (praxis) to equip students with the skills and knowledge for understanding the complex relations of culture, power, systems of oppression, and movements for social justice, particularly as it connects to children, youth, and schooling. As an interdisciplinary program, the ESJ Minor draws on a range of critical theories (both scholarly and grassroots-movement based) to frame and address economic inequality and poverty; corporate and state power; settler colonialism and imperialism; war and state violence; environmental harm; consumerism and commodification; and struggles over space, place, and territory. 

Why consider an Education & Social Justice Minor?

The ESJ minor prepares students for a wide variety of careers, or advanced study, concerned with fostering educational environments that are socially just, diverse, and equitable. The ESJ Minor is particularly targeted to students interested in professions as youth workers, public school teachers, counselors, and grassroots community organizers interested in effectively using social justice frameworks to address unjust conditions in and through formal and informal educational settings

Courses in the ESJ Minor span a variety of areas where human dignity, freedom, and solidarity are at stake. Key themes that thread through the program include: critical and decolonizing theories and pedagogies, the social and political context of schools, the construction of individual and collective identities, mechanisms of social and cultural reproduction, and forms of resistance and political movement building for social change. 

How to declare an Education & Social Justice Minor?

Students may declare the ESJ Minor by contacting Dr. Dolores Calderon or Elaine Mehary.

For FAIR coursework, a narrative evaluation is required; other coursework must be completed with a grade of C- or better.

Contact Us

Verónica N. Vélez, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Woodring College, and Professor, Secondary Education


(360) 650-4914 | MH 404A

Dolores Calderon, Ph.D.

ESJ Faculty Co-Director, Associate Professor


(360) 650-2880 | FA 335

Elaine Mehary

Staff Co-Director, Education and Social Justice Minor & Program


(360) 650-4404 | MH 150C

Clayton Pierce, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


(360) 650-3282 | FA 332

ESJ Word Cloud. "Education, oppression, systems, identity"