Areas of Focus

Graduate students in both MA and PhD programs may select courses that focus their studies in one of three areas.

Critical + Creative Social Justice Studies

Critical + Creative Social Justice Studies (C+CS) offers learning, research, and practice opportunities to students interested in creating artistic works that engage with critical tools and formulations developed in critical racial and anti-colonial, feminist, queer, and trans* scholarship.

Focusing on the potential of the creative work to disrupt ingrained ideas and representations through affecting the senses and the imagination, this area of focus provides students with the opportunity to study and work with academics, artists, and activists interested in how art participates in critical and engaged social justice work. This area of focus is within the PhD and MA degree programs of the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

Critical + Creative Social Justice Studies is vital to realizing GRSJ's vision for engaged social justice scholarship. It exposes students to the critical tools and formulations of an engaged social justice portfolio. Its flexible teaching program, which includes an imaginative curriculum and an innovative course structure, attracts a new generation of students whose intellectual interests sit at the intersection of art, activism, and academic work.

Our faculty's approach to the disruptive potential of art provides an innovative conceptual and methodological basis for engaged social justice research that connects academic, artistic, and activist practices. Currently, no other unit on campus provides a comparable range and depth of research and teaching expertise at the graduate level in global and world works of literature and cultures.

  • GRSJ 500 Intersectional Issues in Social Justice and Equality Studies
  • GRSJ 501 Issues in Decolonizing and Feminist Methodologies, or GRSJ 515A Critical and Creative Social Justice Studies Seminars
  • GRSJ 502 Issues in Gender, Sexuality, and Critical Race Theories
  • One elective


Memory and Justice Studies

The Memory and Justice Studies (MJS) area of focus offers graduate courses and learning opportunities for students interested in interdisciplinary research focused on issues of political and mass violence, including war, atrocity, genocide, disaster, forced displacement, colonialism and slavery. Focused on questions on memory, social repair and transformative justice, this area of focus is offered through the Social Justice Institute’s graduate programs (MA and PhD).

Some of the key political struggles in society today take place around the contestation over official versus informal interpretations of histories of violence, placing various social groups in a spectrum of dynamic and changing locations as victims, bystanders, witnesses, resisters and/or perpetrators. We work and draw from scholarship from a growing number of areas affected by colonialism, war, slavery, genocide, displacement and disasters in the Global South and North.

Drawing from critical interdisciplinary fields such as memory studies, transitional justice, transformative justice, political agency and ethnographies of violence, the Memory and Justice Studies area of focus will allow students to delve into the theoretical, methodological and applied components of the study of political violence, memory and justice and prepare them to work in academic, community and policy settings such as solidarity organizations, humanitarian and human rights organizations, international development organizations, disaster recovery programs and non-governmental organizations. Students will benefit from their exposure to the research and theoretical and methodological approaches of professors from different programs and several disciplines and fields of expertise.

  • GRSJ 500 Intersectional Issues in Social Justice and Equality Studies
  • GRSJ 501 Issues in Decolonizing and Feminist Methodologies
  • GRSJ 502 Issues in Gender, Sexuality, and Critical Race Theories

And one course from one of the following (availability of courses may vary year to year):

  • GRSJ 511 Difficult Knowledge: Ethics and Praxis of Research in Challenging Settings
  • PPGA 591B 001 (Special Topics) Gender, Peace & Security
  • PPGA 591K 001 (Special Topics) Transitional Justice
  • GRSJ 503 (Special Topics) Historical Memory and Social Reconstruction


Gender, Race and Sexuality Studies

The Gender, Race, and Sexuality Studies area of focus offers training to academics, artists, or activists interested in addressing entangled power modalities, which have inspired new forms of activism.

The courses cover both:

(a) The symbolic, economic, and juridical dimensions of heteropatriarchal, colonial, and racial subjugation, as these architectures (structures, mechanisms, discourses, practices) operate at the local, national, and global levels

(b) The practices, discourses, and organizations created by Indigenous and social (racial, gender-sexual, disabled) subaltern collectives to confront the dispossession, displacement, and death these architectures produce, that is, the many dimensions of social injustice. This area of focus is within our PhD and MA degree programs.

Gender, Race, and Sexuality Studies is vital to realizing GRSJ's vision for engaged social justice scholarship. By focusing on patriarchal, racial, sexual, and colonial power mechanisms, this focus area provides students with the critical tools necessary to realize social justice locally, nationally, and globally.

This research and teaching program aims to attract a new generation of academics, artists, and activists interested in research and creative practices addressing the workings of gender, race, and sexuality in the production and perpetuation of social and global injustice. This research area is well established in GRSJ. It will continue to attract an international cohort of graduate students and visiting researchers to promote new work on vital issues in areas of the globe in which our institute has unique expertise at UBC.

  • GRSJ 500 Intersectional Issues in Social Justice and Equality Studies
  • GRSJ 501 Issues in Decolonizing and Feminist Methodologies
  • GRSJ 502 Issues in Gender, Sexuality, and Critical Race Theories
  • One elective

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