CNM Launching New Social Justice Program in Fall Term
Photo credit: Søren Astrup Jørgensen @sorenastrup664

CNM Launching New Social Justice Program in Fall Term

Program will serve students well in various career fields
June 08, 2018

So what exactly is social justice? At its most basic, it’s a way of of examining social inequalities and working to ensure justice for everyone. Social justice refers to a field of study, but also a way to create change in society.

Here at CNM we’ve long offered classes with a social justice focus including African American and Women’s Studies, Gender Communication, Political Science, Sociology, Public Policy, and classes with an environmental focus.  But starting with the Fall Term, all those classes will fall under one umbrella and students can receive a Social Justice Certificate.

“We’re trying to give more structure to something that is already here, and we’re trying to make this area of study more visible,” says Liz Bennett, a Sociology instructor at CNM and one of several faculty members who helped organize the new certificate.

Students who graduate with the Social Justice Certificate will be qualified for a number of different career paths. Erica Volkers, the dean of CNM’s School of Communication, Humanities & Social Sciences where the certificate will be managed, says graduates might work in media, with non-profits, community organizations, or even take the credits to UNM and apply them toward a Peace Studies bachelor’s degree. She says the classes and the certificate will also be useful for anyone who wants to think critically about organizational dynamics.

Want more info? Please contact Liz Bennett at

Miles Tokunow, a Worker Justice Community Organizer with OLÉ, a New Mexico non-profit that works with issues such as workers’ rights, access to healthcare, and early education, says he’s excited to see more graduates from CNM come out with social justice training.“Organizations across the spectrum need employees who can work on teams, and you can’t work on a team effectively if you can’t understand diversity and equality and communicate effectively around those issues,” she says.

“It’s hugely important to have community members who can critically analyze why our systems are set up for some people to succeed and some people to fail,” he says. “And with more people being trained, organizations like ours can move even faster and be even more effective.”

For Volkers and Bennett, the certificate makes particular sense here at the college. Social justice aligns perfectly with the college’s mission of “Changing Lives, Building Community,” and it gives students the tools to critically examine issues of poverty and racism that they might have already faced.

“Social justice means trying to make a better world for everyone,” Bennett says. “It’s about trying to effectively change unequal systems that are in place, and I think a lot of people would agree those values are deeply rooted here at CNM.”