Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

MA in Social Justice


MA in Social Justice Overview

Significant numbers of professionals, young adults, and activists are intensely interested in community service, social justice, and human rights advocacy; they often identify themselves as "change agents." Faith-based community service programs, service immersion trips, and social justice projects attract high-minded "change agents" of great generosity and courage who want to serve economically disadvantaged communities, underserved and underrepresented populations, and people whose human dignity is under assault by social arrangements and structures. The post-Vatican II emphasis on a Church that sees working for justice as constitutive of the Christian life and that proposes an “option for the poor” as a pastoral standard, has spawned a growing number of talented and educated young adults who want to integrate service, social justice, and advocacy into their life patterns and career choices. With Pope Francis I, this movement is gaining even more momentum.

This program is designed to serve these "change agents," offering them a solid grounding in spiritual and theological foundations for this work, information about the key social justice issues today, the skills and tools of assessment and analysis in addressing these issues, best-practice strategies for effective work in advocacy and community development, contextual education at sites where social justice work is exemplary, and the practical tools of successful leadership in addressing social justice issues.

Students in the program will:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of Catholic social teachings (and their basis in Catholic fundamental theology) and the foundational principles of liberation theology; introductory understanding of similar foundations in other denominations and religions;
  • Develop theological reflection skills which bring personal, cultural, institutional contexts together with the Christian tradition;
  • Attain in-depth information and analysis of current social justice issues: race, ethnicity, culture; poverty and its causes; immigration issues; issues and concerns around criminal justice, from policing to prisons; global politics and economics;
  • Develop the skills of social assessment and analysis;
  • Develop practical knowledge and skills: community organizing, community development, advocacy in public policy, recruiting and managing volunteers.

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