Washington State University Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Social Justice


The Washington State University Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Social Justice (WSU SJCON) is an annual event sponsored by the College of Education, the Program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the departments of English and Sociology. The planning committee will choose a theme, produce a call for papers, invite a keynote speaker, and prepare a variety of panels from submitted proposals. All aspects of the conference are organized and executed by graduate students from various departments with the help of supportive faculty from around campus. WSU SJCON provides an exciting opportunity for graduate students to practice planning, executing, and presenting at an academic conference. 

On behalf of Washington State University’s Native American Programs, Department of English, and Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies we are pleased to announce the program for the 2nd annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference on Social Justice. We are also generously supported by the non-profit Hipéexnu' and LMK Inc.

Social justice is perhaps most often associated with fostering fairness and equity in society. The term, however, is wide-reaching and applicable to a significant number of fields. Doing social justice work within the academic context can help instructors, students, and community members develop a proclivity for social change and an awareness of the ways injustices manifest in our daily lives. However, we acknowledge the importance of moving beyond noticing or theorizing social problems; social justice requires action.

Upcoming Conference

WSU SJCON 2021: Doing Social Justice: Reclaiming Space and Place

Location: Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Date: March 12–13, 2021

Access Event Program Here

Our theme for this year’s event is Coalitions and Coalitional Possibilities. We understand coalitions to be sites of communication and collaboration that acknowledge, respect, and recognize differences in experience, community, and identity, while actively seeking strategies for authentic partnership and mutual support. As Karma Chavez reminds us, “coalition” as a term, “always implies an intermeshed understanding of identity, subjectivity, power, and politics” (7). A coalition, therefore, is rooted in the diverse places, identities, and relationships that shape us and highlights the need to act together as a unified force, at the root problems of inequity and oppression. Such work cannot remain theoretical but must connect to lived experiences and the land, which connect us all. And seeking new potential for community engagement and identifying strategies of mutual care requires us to learn from a place of reciprocity, a central concept of Indigenous feminism.

Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy instructs us to cultivate coalitions through shared stories that are “roadmaps for our communities and reminders of our individual responsibilities to the survival of our communities” (426). In identifying specific places and connections to the land as a reflection of identity, we connect to our past, present, and future. Simíinikem is the Nimipuutíimt (Nez Perce) word for confluence, where two rivers meet, the Snake and Clearwater. The place where a person resides in connection to the land tells a story of their identity. When a person is able to interact with oral histories, reclaim language, and engage with story work, we create a space where autonomy and identity also converge in academia. Like Simíinikem, we represent the intersections of Indigeneity, the connections between knowledge and power, and how this understanding connects people to the land through language.

The speakers and workshops included in this year’s conference represent efforts to interrogate political and social power and move into an active space of coalition-based work and draw from knowledge and practices that emerge from a diverse set of intersecting communities. With this understanding of coalitional possibility in mind, we are excited to announce the following keynotes, workshops, and roundtables

WSU SJCON 2021 Registration (Free)

Click here to register

Our Keynote Speakers

Dr. Stephany RunningHawk Johnson, a member of the Oglala Lakota nation, focuses her research on recruiting, retaining, and supporting Indigenous students attending universities and majoring in science fields, with a particular emphasis on how the philosophy behind the way science courses are taught creates barriers for Indigenous students, as well as other students of color. Stephany is interested in working with local Tribes to incorporate place-based education and Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledges in order to increase Indigenous students’ sense of identity and belonging in a university setting. She is also conducting research on how non-Indigenous instructors can begin to decolonize their curriculum and teaching practices. All of Stephany’s work is dedicated to supporting Nation-building, Tribal sovereignty, and empowering Indigenous communities and students in working toward social justice.


Ben-Alex Dupris, a member of the Miniconjou Lakota nation and the Colville Confederated Tribes, as well as an award-winning filmmaker, will provide our Saturday, closing keynote address and a screening of his short film "Sweetheart Dancers." Dupris creates work that pushes the boundaries of modernity and traditionalism, changing perspectives of Indigenous concepts without censorship. Dupris also spent five months on the ground documenting the Standing Rock occupation and continues his work in honor of Indigenous people and his traditional homelands. “Sweetheart Dancers,” which won the Outfest 2019 Grand Jury Award for best short film, shows a slice of the emotions and challenges of decolonization from the perspectives of Adrian and Sean, the first Two-Spirit couple entering into the popular couples’ competition, known as the “Sweetheart Dance,” that is held at powwows across the country.

Stay Connected with WSU SJCON




Click here to access the recorded sessions of the 2021 Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Social Justice