Graduate Research Streams

1. Critical + Creative Social Justice Studies

The Critical + Creative Social Justice Studies research stream offers learning, research, and practice opportunities to students interested in creating artistic work 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 program of study provides students with the opportunity to study and work with academics, activists, and activists interested in how art participates in critical and engaged social justice work. This research stream is within the PhD and MA degree programs of The Social Justice Institute.

Critical + Creative Social Justice Studies is vital to the realizing of The Social Justice Institute’s (GRSJ) vision for engaged social justice scholarship. The research stream is designed to expose students to the critical tools and formulations of an engaged social justice portfolio, with a flexible teaching program, which includes imaginative curriculum and an innovative course structure that will attract a new generation of students who intellectual interests sit at the intersection of art, activism, and academic work.

It is designed for training students to be exceptionally well positioned to intervene in today’s complex political mediascape, whether working in the arts, advertising, journalism, or political advocacy. 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 literatures and cultures.

2. Memory & Justice Studies

The Memory & Justice Studies (MJS) research stream offers graduate courses and learning opportunities for students interested in interdisciplinary research focused on issues of mass violence, including war, atrocity, genocide, disaster, forced displacement, colonialism and slavery. Focused on questions on memory, social repair and transformative justice, this is a research stream within the PhD and MA degree in the Graduate Program of The Social Justice Institute.

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. In keeping with UBC’s global mission, we work in a growing number of areas affected by colonialism, war, slavery, genocide, and natural disasters in the Global South and North.

The research stream will allow students to deepen in the theoretical, methodological and applied components of the study of mass violence, memory and justice and prepare them to work in academic, community and policy settings such as 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. 

3. Gender, Race and Sexuality Studies

The Gender, Race, and Sexuality Studies research stream offers training to academics, artists, or activists interested in addressing entangled modalities of power, which have inspired new forms of activism. The courses cover both (a) 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; and (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.

Gender, Race, and Sexuality Studies is vital to the realizing of the Social Justice Institute’s (GRSJ) vision for engaged social justice scholarship. Focusing on patriarchal, racial, sexual, and colonial power mechanisms, this area of specialization provides students the critical tools necessary to contribute to the project of realizing social justice, locally, nationally, and globally. This research and teaching program will attract a new generation of academics, artists, and activists interested in research and creative practices addressing the workings of gender, race, and sexuality in production and perpetuation of social and global injustice. This area of research is well established in GRSJ and 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.