Tag Archives: social justice

Calling Everyday People

Toylee Green-Harris Peacemaking Insight

Toylee Green-Harris, recruiter extraordinaire for the Masters of Arts in Social Justice and Community Development, invites you to be one of the everyday people gathering at the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry to help change the way individuals, our nation and our world think about violence.

Learn more about how your individual ministry as well as the larger church ministry and community can come together around some practical skills to transform the way we think about the epidemic of violence.


Should I attend the Congress if I’m not into Urban Ministry?

Susan Rans MASJCD

Susan Rans, director of the Master of Arts in Social Justice and Community Development program, encourages those who are interested in creating peace in neighborhoods, cities, and between nations (but perhaps not interested in urban ministry) to participate in the Congress and to be a part of the myriad of groups working for peace from diverse contexts and perspectives.

As apart of this continuing work towards peace, SCUPE is pleased to present the finalized workshop offerings for the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry.


Jim Wallis on Building Faith-based Social Movements

Jim Wallis speaks at 2006 CongressI’ve been going through some of the old recordings from the past plenary speakers at Congress on Urban Ministry.  As we approach these mid-term elections in a frenzy of political polarization, attack ads, and electioneering I was struck by the relevance of this plenary Jim Wallis did back in 2006.

Jim WallisJim Wallis is an author and the founder/editor of Sojourners.  He has been a crucial voice for American Christianity that crosses the normal, hard and fast, boundaries of left and right, liberal and conservative.

Listen here or below as Jim Wallis  speaks at the 2006 Congress about moving from partisan politics (and partisan religion) towards creating and nurturing a movement for social justice based on faith and hope.

One of the highlights for me is near the middle where, for a couple minutes, he hits upon this idea that the Beloved Community must be built up by moving from ministry to models to movement.  Wallis gives credit to ministries (saying at one point that if everyone in this room stopped their ministry there would be many cities that would literally stumble) but also pushes the Congress to move past ministry and even models that help extend ministry toward movements that bring ministry to bear upon systems and structures of injustice.

Jim Wallis at 2006 CongressI wish Jim would have pressed a bit harder on this as I think many socially mindful/active Christians (Jim Wallis included) are still searching for the way to build a movement.  The civil rights movement is an extraordinary exemplar but, times have changed and I would contend that the powers that benefit from the status quo have successfully developed methods to diffuse social movements created with familiar paradigms.  We must create a new paradigm of movement and then allow it to adapt.  I would contend that the best way to do this is by listening and being responsive to the Spirit.

If you are reading this from a Chicagoland location you might be interested to know that Jim Wallis will be participating in an informal debate out at Wheaton College on this coming Thursday.  He will engage Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, in an informal debate: “Does Capitalism Have a Soul?”.  Here are the details:

Thursday, October 28th – 2010
7pm at Edman Chapel
Debate to be moderated by Washington Post Columnist Michael Gerson.

More info here.


MA in Social Justice and Community Development

Community Leader at Lake And PulaskiSCUPE’s newest degree program is designed for those aspiring to affect faith-based, social transformation in communities as well as to those committed to restoring economic equity, social justice, and ecological health, especially with regard to underserved, marginalized, or exploited populations.

The degree is the MASJCD, which stands for the Masters of Arts in Social Justice and Community Development.  This cross-denominational program engages students through a faith- and values-based perspective and provides:

  • an interdisciplinary foundation in justice theories and religious social teachings
  • a comprehensive, integrated curriculum, useful for various career paths in community development and social justice
  • practical tools in community organizing, social analysis and change, communication and non-violence, advocacy in public policy, working with volunteers, grant writing, and fundraising

The best way to learn about the possibilities of this degree in your life is to attend the upcoming open house hosted by our partner institution the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago.  Here are details on this opportunity:

Loyola SCUPE IPS Open House

You can read more about the connections between social justice and community development in a recent blog posting here by MASJCD program co-director Susan Rans.

Also, stayed tuned for an upcoming SCUPE podcast with the other co-director for the program: Mary Nelson of Bethel New Life.


Social Justice and Community Development

A partnership between SCUPE and Loyola University
combines Social Justice and Community Development
into one graduate level program (MASJCD).  Susan Rans writes
about how SJ and CD are not unusual bedfellows.

Dr. Mary Nelson' s Restoring Urban Communities Course

Many current and incoming students have asked for a description of the differences between the Social Justice and Community Development tracks of the MASJCD.  In the past, I have answered this question in a kind of shorthand:

Social Justice ‘thinks globally”; Community Development “acts locally”.  Here, I will attempt to put more meat on those bones.

The biggest idea behind the creation of the MASJCD was to join the theoretical and theological study of social justice to a place-based practice and policy approach to change in urban communities.  While the study of social justice leads toward action, the study of community development provides effective and proven tools for action.  So, another formulation might be that the study of social justice reveals why we must act and the study of community development shows what we can do.

It can also be said that community development is a form of social justice.  Our religious traditions speak clearly about the injustices of poverty, of war and of oppression of the powerless.  Answering this call often leads students to involvement in justice issues like eliminating poverty and hunger, ending wars, empowering women or welcoming immigrants.  Community development–building strong and liberating communities in which the economy is available to all, in which every member is a valued contributor, and in which access to health care, education and secure housing is a mandate–fulfills the social justice vision.

Community development also concerns itself with systems—their analysis and the ways in which they must change to become equitable and sustainable.  Understanding housing policy and the details of housing production are essential to changing the housing system.  Knowing the economics and politics of food production is necessary to work to provide local communities with access to healthy food.  As one Chicago community developer often says, “We need to discover ways to make big systems work for small places.”  Studying community development leads to that discovery.

In the end, an argument can be made that significant knowledge of both areas is essential to real and lasting change, and that’s why there is an MASJCD.  And toward that end, we do not require students to declare a track until one full-time semester has passed (one year for part-time students).  And we highly recommend that students take courses in both tracks early in their studies and even after they have chosen a track—a sort of major/minor arrangement.  The best mix of theory and practice, of global issues and local systems will produce to the best agents of social change—the goal of our program.

For more info and discussion of the program, feel free to contact me.

-Susan Rans
MASJCD Graduate Program Director


Dr. Cornel West

The esteemed Dr. Cornel West has been making a deluge of media appearances in the past weeks and has been raising the level of discourse around President Barack Obama, issues of race and justice, and the future of this country.  He is earning his reputation as one of the moral voices of conscience in America.

Even as a self-proclaimed fan of Cornel West I have not been able to keep up with the man so, half as a note to myself and half as a public service announcement, I offer here links to video, audio, or text from some of Dr. West’s resent appearances.  If there are more noteworthy appearances that I have missed please feel free to link to them below.

Cornel West on the Ed Show on MSNBC (video) – 8/4/10

Cornel West on NPR’s Talk of the Nation (audio and transcript) – 8/2/10

Cornel West on Face the Nation (video) – 7/25/10

Cornel West at West Virginia University (brief excerpt) – 4/2/10

Cornel West on Race-Talk (audio and transcript) – 2/23/10

New York Times article on Cornel West – 1/22/10


PBS to Air Radical Disciple: the Story of Father Pfleger

Pfleger and Hercules at Columbia College screening

When I attended the screening of Radical Disciple at Columbia College in January I can remember thinking, “wow, great film, but too bad no one will see it”.  The lines of media distribution certainly would make it hard for a little film like this to see the light of much day.  But then came along public television!

PBS is airing Radical Disciple this Wednesday, August 4 at 8pm.   The film by Bob Hercules attempts a balanced look at Father Michael Pfleger, a priest that garners equal parts respect and controversy in and around Chicago for his outspoken stances.  There may be no finer example of what a modern day prophet should look like nor a finer example of the angry bee hive one steps into by taking prophetic stances.

The film explores issues of racism, the power of the media, and the tension between different theological paradigms.  Most importantly though, the film is a personal look at the experiences which empower one individual to become clarion voice for justice in an unjust world.

Read about the initial screening of Radical Disciple on one of this blogs early posts.