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University of Central Florida Creates ‘Social Justice’ Graduate Certificate
Students make their way across campus on the first day of classes for the fall semester at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Aug. 24, 2015.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Getty Images

The University of Central Florida (UCF) created a graduate certificate program and a communications track focused on social justice. 

According to the school’s website, students can receive a graduate certificate from the College of Community Innovation and Education in “Social Justice in Public Service.” The program is aimed at developing leaders “who can influence policy to create social justice.”  

Students will study the “theoretical background [of] social justice, explor[e] topics such as human rights, income distribution, and the role of markets.” The topics will help students understand the impact of social justice on “government and nonprofit sectors in education, health, transportation, and housing policy domains among others.”

“Students will understand factors that contribute to inequity among various groups, with a focus on providing a theoretical background and methods to analyze social justice issues in public service,” the course description reads.  

Examples of classes include “Equitable Educational Opportunity and Life Chances,” “Environmental Security,” “Women and Public Policy,” “Social Inequalities in Health,” and “Human Rights and Security.” 

The graduate certificate is designed for students who wish to become city council members, government professors, legislators, political consultants, senators, and other public policy figures. 

The university also created a track within the school of communications for “social innovation and activism.” The track is designed for future authors and journalists who wish to focus more on activism. 

Classes within the communications activism track cost approximately $212 per credit hour for in-state students and $748 per credit hour for out-of-state students. 

UCF is not the first school to create a social justice degree. According to Campus Reform, the University of Iowa became one of the first schools in 2016 to add a bachelor’s program in social justice to its list of degrees.

The University of Iowa began by offering first-year seminars on social justice and a “Justice for All” living-learning community where students could live and “learn about systemic problems in our society.” The school’s Board of Regents eventually voted in favor of creating an entire degree program. 

Some universities are painting social justice degrees as “African-American Studies” departments. According to The College Fix, St. Louis University axed its undergraduate department for American Studies and replaced it with an African-American Studies department that was unpopular among students. The university’s graduation slideshow listed just one student with a minor in African-American studies in 2020. 

In a Facebook post, the American Studies department chair said that “our current majors and minors received an email from Provost Mike Lewis, announcing his intention to close our BA Major and Minor programs.” The department chair said, however, that the program had taken it upon itself to institute an emphasis on “social justice” and “diversity.” 

“I hope many of you will be interested in supporting this larger fight on behalf of future students and for the sake of maintaining our department’s footprint as a vibrant interdisciplinary program in which every class considers structural inequities, social justice, and diversity in many intersectional senses.” 

This article has been revised for clarity. 

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