Signature programs in support of this renewed focus on social justice included:
Body Justice Project
Launched in Spring 2011 with Sex Week activities to initiate conversations about responsible choices, the project was renamed Body Justice in Fall 2011 and relaunched with a broader focus on overall health, including exercise, proper diet, impact of drugs and alcohol.
Platinum By Design
Started in Fall 2008, this program was conceived as a way to engage and empower women students through exposure to topics concerning the development of women.
Black Male Initiative
Started in Fall, 2007 in response to a need to increase retention for male students, the program’s first speaker was Kevin Powell (from the 1st MTV Real World). Today, the program continues to provide a wide range of programs for all male students
Bless The Mic
Started in September 2005, the program exposes students to leading social justice thinkers and activist.
Greater Little Rock
● Critical Issues: There are a wide range of issues that present opportunity for the the SJI to make a difference in the region. These issues are related to education, health care, poverty, economic empowerment, environmental sustainability, LGBTQIA rights and enfranchisement.
● Geography: Little Rock seems to be in silos and an isolated region in which communities are fractured across racial and economic lines, and have been harmed by generation after generation of systemic racism.
● Race Matters: Everyone that we interviewed wanted to see systemic changes where inequity would be addressed across the board. It was also clear the critical role that race played in their analysis. By contrast, the Latino/a interviewees and a few of the African American interviewees largely focused on educational opportunities. The Latino/a interviewees expressed concern that community members know rights and be aware of the resources that are available to them.
● A re-envisioned PSC Social Justice Institute has an opportunity to fill a leadership vacuum: While there are some organizations that are doing good work with little resources, by and large people felt that the churches and nonprofit justice organizations were either ineffective, too timid, or under-resourced. As a result, a robust, re-envisioned social justice institute that could address the systemic injustice was seen as very necessary. The growing influence of Northwest Arkansas. Based upon our conversations, it appears there is a material influence of wealthy Northwest Arkansas on the public and private sectors of much of Little Rock. At this time, this is most keenly felt in contentious actions as they relate to the direction of public education in Little Rock.
● Fragmentation among faith-rooted justice leaders is common. With the exception of a handful of collective organizing and advocacy efforts, there is a sense that those committed to justice work, particularly within the faith community, seem to work in isolation.
● The myth and reality of social justice engagement in Little Rock. As a flashpoint for the desegregation movement in the 1960s, Little Rock has often been painted internally and externally as a location for robust social engagement within faith-rooted and secular communities. The reality is that there is little local capacity and leadership dedicated sustained, collective social justice engagement.
Alumni and Community Connection
Through the re-envisioned Social Justice Institute we recommend extending the reach of PSC to the larger community.
● Address trauma: In addition to addressing trauma with incoming freshman, the PSC community would work with Auburn seminary to ensure that healing practices are part of the social justice curriculum.
● Communicate: The new Social Justice Center will need to examine how it communicates both internally and to the larger community.
● Evaluate: The Resource and Research center within the re-envisioned Social Justice Institute will be responsible for evaluating the work happening at PSC.
Connecting Spirit and Service
Given the deep religious heritage of Philander Smith College, the SJI will create space for individuals and groups to do intentional spiritual reflection as a means of informing daily practice, vocational discernment, and civic engagement.
Social Justice Institute:
Specific Recommendations for Auburn
● Leverage existing donor and foundation relationships to support the work of the Little Rock Faith-Rooted Social Justice Hub and the re-envisioned Social Justice Institute
● Invest staff resources and time in the coordination and implementation of future Social Justice Institute collaborations
● Hire staff for the Social Justice Hub
● Coordinate the Community Advisory Council
● Provide an Auburn-led training each time staff meets to develop the plan for the Social Justice Institute.
Specific Recommendations for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
● Thoroughly review this landscape assessment
● Prioritize which of the recommendations laid out above WRF is invested in seeing implemented
● Describe other recommendations not captured here that Winthrop Rockefeller would like to see implemented
● Develop funding strategy to fully onboard a PSC social justice institute director
● Work with Auburn to develop funding strategy to fully onboard a director for Little Rock Faith-Rooted Social Justice Hub
● Define level of engagement the foundation would be able to commit to as this plan is actualized.
Specific Recommendations for the PSC
● Thoroughly review this landscape assessment
● Prioritize which of the recommendations laid out above PSC is most invested in seeing implemented
● Describe other recommendations not captured here that PSC would like to see implemented
● Commit to the timeline (or agreed upon revised timeline) for the scope of work described in this landscape analysis.
● Provide space and staff resources for the Social Justice working group
Immediate Next Steps:
● Solidification of work plan by the PSC working group
● Appreciative Inquiry process followed by an asset mapping process
● Implementation of process to develop a Strategic Plan
● Winthrop Rockefeller and Auburn will use the work plan to gain financial support
● Create a community advisory council