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University of Colorado Social Justice Summit

Call for proposals


The 2023 University of Colorado Social Justice Summit aspires to ignite critical engagement and responsibility for cultivating and sustaining a diverse democracy (see Hurtado, 2003). This year's theme, “Operationalizing Liberation for a Diverse Democracy,” calls for a commitment to action by disrupting behaviors and oppressive actions, structures, and systems that prevent our collective liberation. Liberation, defined as the act of gaining freedom from oppression, is dependent on each of us working in community to learn and hold each other accountable if we are to build a more just world. We anticipate that this year’s Social Justice Summit will encourage spaces of joy and healing, transformation and learning, to enact radical possibilities. We hope all participants will center a love for humanity and work toward the disruption of all forms of oppression. 

We are organizing the Summit with four areas that engage The Cycle of Liberation (Harro, 2008). Please submit your proposals to address the descriptions and prompts that follow. Information for session formats appear at the end of these descriptions. 

We are seeking proposals that engage one of the following topics. You can find more detail on each topic area below:  

  • Self-Care and Liberation

  • Waking Up. Getting Ready. Reaching Out.

  • Building Community through Collective Action

  • Creating Change for a Diverse Democracy: Transforming Policies and Institutions  

Subtopic 1: Self-care and Liberation 

Why is self-care essential to liberation work? How are healing, security, and support related to activism for liberation? How do you refill your cup? How do you prepare yourself inwardly and outwardly, as an individual or in community, to show up for anti-oppression work?  

We are calling for presentations that inspire healing and balance, sessions that summarize current research or promising practices, or workshops that teach transformative practices to empower individuals and communities as we work toward systemic change and liberation. 

These sessions will explore three areas: looking inward, physical health, and emotional and mental health. Inward looking sessions might focus on practices of reflection, introspection, mindfulness, or self-examination. The physical practice sessions might explore how you are in your body, understanding your body and its relationship to the external world, or practices that build physical wellness. Mental and emotional wellness sessions might identify practices that allow you to prepare yourself for challenging situations, remain resilient as challenges arise, and how to recover when you experience trauma or oppression. 

Subtopic 2: Waking Up. Getting Ready. Reaching Out. 

Preparing oneself for lifelong learning is essential to the long-term success of liberation for all. These sessions will focus on learning to “wake up, get ready and reach out.”  

Sessions addressing “waking up” will identify what oppression looks like, the way it operates, and how we might thwart it in our institutions, our interactions, and our ideologies. Effective presentations or workshops might explain oppression, intersections, deepen participants’ awareness of how oppression limits the potential of all people, or summarize current research and promising practices. 

Sessions relating to “getting ready” will focus on self-reflection and introspection in preparation to educate, engage, and act. Presentations or workshops might include activities that individuals or groups might use to build self-awareness around diverse cultures and experiences. 

Sessions related to “reaching out” will focus on how to build relationships and partnerships that lead to effective and sustained anti-oppression work. Examples might include case studies or partnerships that have led to either individual or group change. 

Subtopic 3: Building Community Through Collective Action 

How do we build community? For the CU Social Justice Summit, “community building” means bringing people together for the purpose of mutual support and well-being, preparing for collective action, and the development or deepening of a shared consciousness. 

Sessions focused on mutual support and well-being might explore how to create intra-community groups for finding in-group support and inter-community groups for building coalitions. 

Sessions focused on preparation for collective action might explore planning or implementation for group strategies designed to make change on campus or in the community, summarize current research or promising practices. 

Sessions focused on the development or deepening of a shared consciousness might explore how to bring people together for the purpose of reflection, education and challenging internal biases. 

We are also interested in featuring sessions that chronicle community building or examples of collective action through narrative or storytelling. 

Subtopic 4: Creating Change for a Diverse Democracy: Transforming Policies and Institutions 

What actions and strategies are critical for radically transforming policies to make institutions more democratic? Policies and practices reflect institutional culture and systems, connecting people in an organization through shared processes and procedures. In education, policies and practices could include a myriad of activities such as hiring, setting academic schedules, enacting pedagogy, and grading. Ibram X. Kendi argues, “There are no neutral policies: All policies are either driving access and equity or they are driving a lack of access and inequity.”  

We seek sessions that focus on: 

  • Examining the role of institutional policies in creating opportunity and democracy. 

  • Exploring processes for reviewing, revising, advocating for, and implementing transformative policies. 

  • Leveraging research around topics of oppression, inequity, and social injustice to build institutional democracy. 

  • Offering frameworks for what anti-racism and other anti-discriminatory concepts look like in practice. 

  • Strategies to support students and instructors in developing a liberatory consciousness in learning spaces, for example: 

  • Diversifying course content with an emphasis on global perspectives

  • Creating learning opportunities for meaningful dialogue across differences 

Session information 

  • All sessions will be delivered via Zoom. 

  • Sessions are 75 minutes. 

  • All sessions should afford opportunities for asking questions or engaging other participants. 

  • Presenters will be provided with a Summit volunteer to support the online platform (e.g., monitor chat, manage participants, create break-out rooms (if requested in advance)). 

Proposal submission 

  • Submitter name, affiliation, contact information (and proxy contact) 

  • Title – 12-word limit

  • Abstract – 50-word limit

  • Proposal text (total) – 500-word limit 

  • Introduction – describe the session (aligned with the theme and topic) and what participants should expect (e.g., interactive, panel discussion, workshop, presentation) 

  • Learning goals or objectives

  • Participant(s) contact information and biography(ies) – 100-word limit each 

Proposals will be evaluated on these components: 

  1. Alignment with theme and broad appeal – How does this proposal align with the theme, “Operationalizing Liberation for a Diversity Democracy”? 

  2. Application and adaptation – How can these ideas be applied or adapted to various contexts?

  3. Use of research, theory, or practice scholarship – How does the proposal use relevant scholarship? 

  4. Clarity, organization, and format – Are the abstract and description of the proposed session well defined and communicated?  

  5. Learning outcomes – Does the proposal contain specific and appropriate learning outcomes? How are the outcomes connected to and aligned with the session topic?



Contact Information:

For technical support submitting a proposal, please contact Fabiola Mora at this email, Fabiola.Mora@colorado.edu