The Social Justice Initiative (SJI) at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research of Bryn Mawr College envisions a world with many societies of just and peaceful families and communities where everyone can reach their highest potential through access to life-long resources to live as valued and contributing citizens.


Convening community-based services and integrating participatory research and education, the Social Justice Initiative (SJI) utilizes four pathways - forgiveness, courage and compassion, cultural humility, and radical love - to advance the knowledge, values, and skills essential for dismantling the structures and systems of injustice in all its manifestations, recognizing that racial inequities and disparities are central to them all. The SJI seeks to co-create a more equitable world for individuals, families, organizations, and their communities. The SJI provides space for dialogue and reflection through publicly accessible webinars, podcasts, and events as well as coaching and consultations with executive directors, administrative and direct service teams, governing boards, and clients/consumers, largely in the not-for-profit sector. This work has resulted in the SJI’s learning, unlearning, and relearning, which is shared throughout the SJI network of ~300 individual and organizational collaborators.

Justice For All, artwork of Samuel Calman Maitin

"Justice for all" artwork by Samuel C. Maitin (1928-2004). Credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Lilyan Maitin and the Maitin family, 2008.

Overarching Goals

  • Identify the core components of the concept and practice of social justice to deepen our understanding;
  • Convene conversations to construct and communicate the tools, techniques, and strategies to make these actionable core components sustainable in everyday lives of individuals and families, and within their organizations and communities, while informing policies to best serve them all;
  • Develop a comprehensive narrative for talking about social justice in areas that are currently 'unjust', locally, nationally, and globally.

Core Beliefs

  • All life is interconnected and deserves to be valued;
  • Everyone has the capacity to lead and be a teacher-learner;
  • Acts of injustice are learned behaviors;
  • The components of social justice can be taught, learned, embodied, and enacted within and among individuals and communities;
  • Healing and reconciliation within and among individuals and communities are steps on a journey toward liberation from vengeance, violence, destruction, and turmoil.

Four Pathways to Justice

When used together, these four pathways are most powerful in helping to activate socially-just individuals, families, organizations, communities, and policies. They are all active processes-not end states- with degrees of attainment. Each pathway requires that we remain avoid passivity and are active participants in Life.  Collectively, these pathways urge risk-taking with intention, and genuinely seeking connections within, between, and among ourselves and others. 

The SJI pathways are defined as follows:

Forgiveness: Acknowledging the past as we transform from identifying as a victim to identifying as a survivor;

Cultural Humility: Remaining grounded in our own unknowing as we continue to come to know others;

Courage and Compassion: Facing fear and choosing to moving forward anyway; and commitment to remaining desirous of supporting others though suffering. 

Radical Love: Recognizing the Good in others simply because they exist.