What is Social Justice?
Recognizing that there are many definitions of social justice from many perspectives, the Saint Louis University School of Social Work has made a commitment to the following:
The School of Social Work is committed to the teaching and learning of social justice, understood as 1) the creation of just relationships at all system levels; 2) the development of structures that provide for equality of opportunity; 3) the facilitation of access to needed information, services and resources; and 4) the support of meaningful participation in decision-making for all people.
This commitment is grounded in the ethic of the social work profession and faithful to the social justice values at the core of a Jesuit Education. It is infused into all major components of the School of Social Work's educational and service mission.
The National Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethics states that a commitment for social workers to promote social justice is a fundamental mandate of the profession (NASW, 1999). Social justice curriculum content is required by the Council on Social Work Education, the accrediting body for schools of social work (CSWE, 2001).
The 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus set an agenda of social justice as a moral imperative for human rights, life, the environment, and interdependence in a global world (Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995). Saint Louis University challenges faculty, students, staff, and alumni(ae), not just to learn about social justice but also to do justice, a witnessing of faith that does justice (O'Brien & Shannon, 1997).
The School community, consisting of faculty, staff, students and others actively involved in the teaching and learning process, promotes social justice through
- developing just, egalitarian professional alliances with clients and client systems in order to assist them in developing empowering environments and contexts at all levels;
- advocating for inclusive policies and laws that protect the human rights and dignity of all individuals, groups, families and communities;
- organizing with others to advocate for the establishment and preservation of human rights for all groups of people around the world;
- developing efficient and effective interventions that assist in the alleviation of suffering and facilitation of empowerment of individuals, groups, families and communities;
- establishing service organizations, institutions and systems that provide equal access to resources, both human and natural, and respect the dignity and diversity of all persons; and
- engaging in the advancement of knowledge, critical thinking and open dialogue about our understanding and implementation of social justice.