Strategic Areas of Focus

Social Justice and Human Rights

Growing attention to social justice and human rights reflects escalating concerns related to racism, discrimination, immigration, criminal justice and structural inequities. USF’s competitive advantage in these domains rests in the confluence of several unique considerations. Those include existing and community-engaged centers and institutes already providing support for social sustainability and human rights across USF’s colleges; our urban location, which provides an intimate and immediate setting for researching social problems; our Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, which is evidence of our robust community engagement; our public K-12 school districts size and diversity, which are among the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse in the country; and our geographic and demographic considerations, in particular, access to Latin America and the Caribbean. As demographic shifts in the U.S.
predict that the country is becoming both more urbanized and more minority-majority, USF faculty research and engagement within the already urbanized and diverse Tampa Bay region enables USF to provide thought leadership and solution-oriented research that can guide researchers and practitioners across the nation.

The Social Justice and Human Rights initiative builds on national imperatives and couples our ability to cultivate business partnerships and research engagement to advance urban development. USF has been a key partner in the emergence of a burgeoning community innovation ecosystem that is rooted in a concern for social sustainability and human rights—providing an opportunity to collaborate with faculty to ensure that the revitalization of urban communities of color is equitable. Further support for an infrastructure to promote faculty and student research that is solution-focused and will increase workforce readiness, will contribute to our institutional and regional competitiveness.

Overall, our strategic geographic location and competitive advantages in the area of social justice and human rights leverage existing academic programs that address questions of identity, culture and our past. This initiative will also broaden the contours of how we conceptualize social sustainability to include chronic challenges such as poverty, housing, transportation, education, food and water security and community design. Furthermore, the Institute on Black Life, the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean, the USF Humanities Institute, and the USF Libraries offer substantial learning and research enhancements. The Libraries’ wealth, especially, includes the African-American History Collections, the LGBTQ+ Collections, the Latin American, Caribbean and Spanish Language Collection, the Cuban Wars of Liberation-Spanish-American War Collection, the Cigar Industry and Arts Collection, the Ybor City and West Tampa Collection, and the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Collections—all of which illustrate how to further support interdisciplinary global and social justice education.