The business of social justice

There are many organizations that work to help families and children learn marketable skills, illustrated in the photo showing Bolivian children learning higher-yield farming techniques at the Bolivian organization called the Pirwa (“silo” in Quechua). These techniques support and maintain valuable indigenous farming knowledge that has been lost because of increased rural to urban migration to work in the informal economy as day-laborers or for very low-pay work in factories.

Faculty share projects related to economic justice, gender at work, stigmatizing issues

At a time when U.S. income inequality continues to grow, affecting the world’s population and global power dynamics, a good university education should not neglect serious discussion on economic justice, says Nabamita Dutta, a UWL associate professor of economics.

Dutta is just one of several faculty in UWL’s College of Business Administration doing work related to social justice issues.

Dutta helped make possible a photography exhibition at UWL’s Murphy Library, “Search for Economic Justice Through Photography,” which promotes a new general education course, “Search for Economic Justice,” she’ll be teaching for the first time in spring 2017.

Nicole Gullekson, associate professor of management, is opening students’ eyes to the challenges people of various genders face at work. She teaches a course on the role of women, and other genders, in organizations. She also does research examining women in male-dominated industries.

“The work is intriguing because the experiences of women and other genders at work, the challenges they face, and what they have overcome, but also what they have left to overcome is all too real,” she says.

Elizabeth Crosby, assistant professor of marketing, presented collaborative research related to discriminatory and stigmatizing issues that transgender consumers face in the marketplace as part of UWL’s first ever Social Justice Week in April.

The market has the power to stigmatize or destigmatize traditionally marginalized groups, notes Crosby.

“I would like to see the market take a more proactive approach to social justice issues,” she explains. “I think it could have a huge impact.”

About the ‘Search for Economic Justice’ photography exhibit, class

Dutta, along with, Christine Hippert, associate professor of archaeology and anthropology, and Marc Manke, Murphy Library, received a UWL Foundation grant for the Art-In-the-Mug series exhibition, “Search for Economic Justice Through Photography.” The exhibit, open now through Friday, Nov. 11, aims to demonstrate the interconnections between working toward economic justice both in the U.S. and abroad.

Through the lens of photography, students encounter depictions of various aspects of economic justice in photos, while simultaneously being posed different questions pertaining to the depictions. The aim is to get students to think about economics and the human side of economic inequality, says Dutta.

Dutta hopes the exhibit excites students to take the course that will be offered for the first time in spring 2017. Dutta will be one of the course’s two instructors. Hippert will be the other. Her course, ECO 212, will focus intensely on questions of globalization and human rights, capitalism and human rights, capitalism, globalization and women’s rights, child labor, issues of income inequality, religion and culture and more.

“Our team came together because of an awareness of a dearth of information and perspectives for students on questions of economic justice, economic inequality, and economic empowerment in the general education curriculum,” says Dutta.

Also, a panel discussion on “Economic Justice” will be held Wednesday, Nov. 9. Faculty from all the different departments involved in the course will provide perspective on its need, along with its usefulness.

About women at work

Gullekson says opening student’s eyes to the challenges and opportunities for change has been a rewarding part of teaching about the role of women, and other genders, in organizations. She often receives emails from former students who find the class discussions are resonating in ways they had not expected as they enter careers.

“I think its important for all genders to explore the topic so they can be part of the change for a more inclusive workplace,” says Gullekson. “My hope is that through opening people’s eyes to the challenges various genders face at work, we can create a more inclusive workforce and our UWL students will be involved in making such changes.”

Research on discriminatory and stigmatizing issues

Crosby’s research, done in collaboration with Kim McKeage, a professor at Hamline University, and Terri Rittenburg, a professor at the University of Wyoming, also looks at how transgender individuals respond to consumer vulnerability and what companies can do to decrease consumer vulnerability.

Crosby has research experience is stigma and stigma management, as well as consumer vulnerability as a potential consequence of stigmatization. Crosby is also a member of UWL’s Institute for Social Justice advisory board.


More on the photography exhibit:

The “Search for Economic Justice Through Photography” exhibit is free and open to the public now through Friday, Nov. 11.

Murphy’s Mug is open: 7:45 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays –Thursdays; 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays; and 4-10 p.m. Sundays.

For more information about the exhibit, visit: