Social Justice Frameworks in Action (SJFACT)

Course Requirement Areas: 
Axiology and Practical Philosophy
Course Description: 
This is a University-wide Course and it is open to all CEU students.

Social justice is a widely engaged concept with varied definitions and ideological assumptions, as well as equally contrasting and diverse practical or empirical implications across disciplines and institutions. It is considered aa political philosophy, a social construction, a social movement’s esprit de corps, and a normative or otherwise analytical framework or goal, among others. It has strong conceptual ties to equality, distribution, capacity, opportunity and others as well as some of what might be mutually aligned as their dichotomous counterparts such as inequality, discrimination, privilege and oppression.  

In support of the open society principles of Central European University and its key role in “building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity,” this course aims to engage faculty and students from different disciplines in a learning forum in which the dynamic, varied, contested, and complex notion of social justice is explored and critically engaged in the context of political participation.  

SJFACT is comprised of diverse analytical frameworks from philosophy, political economics, legal studies, sociology and environmental studies that explore social justice in and through political participation from the perspectives of philosophical questions, voting, formal legal processes and social movements for environmental and social justice.  Faculty from these disciplinary perspectives facilitate conceptually (theoretical and practical) based learning forums (e.g., lectures, seminars, interactive exercises, etc.) supported by key relevant readings. Four sessions involving three classes each are presented as follows:

Session 1. Philosophical questions on political participation 

Session 2. A legal perspective on political participation  

Session 3. Rational choice and the role of inequality in voting

Session 4. Environmental justice and political participation

These sessions are complemented by work in the Social Justice Lab.  In the lab, students will develop case study projects that each explore social justice and political participation in a given context with the intention of articulating the promotion of social justice in and through political participation guided by the analytical frameworks presented in the four sessions.

Guiding Questions: 

Aim: How can we promote social justice in and through political participation? 

Objectives: How are social justice and political participation mutually understood across multiple disciplinary fields?  How do we measure and assess social justice as a dynamic and/or aan outcome of political participation? How do we translate our knowledge into concrete proposals to promote social justice in and/or through political participation? 

Pedagogical Support:
Ian Cook, Research Fellow CMDS, CTL Affiliate, CEU Alumni (PhD, SOC ANTH)
Helga Dorner/Sally Schwager, Center for Teaching and Learning
Doctoral Teaching Assistants:
Felipe Gonzalez Santos, Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations
Marko Konjovic, Philosophy
Anna Varfolomeeva, Environmental Sciences and Policy
Learning Outcomes: 

Students taking this course will build a unique interdisciplinary perspective and innovative analytical capacity for promoting social justice in and through political participation in different contexts. 


 1) Four individual one-page reflection papers based on each session and how that session relates to your team's selected case study project (4 X 10% each= 40%)

2) Team case study project: 

 a) Project proposal (living document) (20%)

 b) Multi-media curation (to be explained in class) (30%)

 c) Public Presentation (10%)