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Center for Faith and Vocation

Social Justice and Diversity Curricula

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are foundational to creating and maintaining a just society. Educators have an important role and responsibility through engaging in meaningful curriculum design that speaks to the topics of social, economic and racial inequality with DEI. Through thoughtful design, Butler University Professors participating in the Social Justice and Diversity Vocation Fellowship, offer a rich variety of content that the Center for Faith and Vocation is pleased to present. As you delve into the content, we invite you to think further about how to incorporate SJD curriculum into your teaching content. Courses are organized thematically. Some courses could be applied in multiple thematic contexts. 

Please note attributes and permissions when adopting content to your curriculum. With gratitude for the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), the Council of Independent Colleges, and the Lilly Endowment Inc. for making the SJD Vocation Fellowship possible.

Education; Disabilities and Diverse Learners

In the context of a COE course on Special Education:

Originally designed by College of Education faculty Shelly Furuness and Kelli Esteves with updates by Erin Garriot, Lecturer in the College of Education, to reflect SJD Vocation Fellowship learning.

Lecturer, College of Education

Social Imagination Reflection Writing

As an exercise in the “practice of social imagination,” students will read fiction and non-fiction books, participate in class discussions, and engage in activities surrounding the topics of disabilities and diverse learners. Listening to/reading stories of exceptionality from multiple perspectives can help us all gain insight into the human condition. As you read, try to “share the space” with the characters as an opportunity to empathize versus sympathize. From this prompt, students will have an assignment to reflect on what they learn, how it impacts their mission as an educator, and create an “artifact” for others to see into their learning. There will be a narrative that describes their learning as well as a “personal growth plan” prompted by the questions “who are you?” and “who do you want to be?”

Purposeful Engagement with Communities through Culture

In the context of an First Year Seminar course called “Why Music?”

Designed by John Perkins

Associate Professor, Department of  Music, Jordan College 

The course's larger goals are: Why music? What are the means and ends of music-making? Whose voices are heard the loudest? How does music-making engage those in my future vocation?

Personal Written Reflections (every other week): What in the reading causes me comfort or discomfort? Why do I suppose this idea causes me comfort or discomfort? What benefits may I gain from conversations, philosophies and/or readings?

Group Project Connected to Individual Writing Assignment

Group Project: Each group (two to three people) will design a plan to engage their philosophy. Engagement should aim at “moving the needle” using critical theories discussed in class. For instance: How does music better “see” and “hear” (identify) each other? How does music disrupt and rebuild social structures? (Interviewing participants from music organizations, presenting data to key  stakeholders. Co-developing new policies.) How do new curricula change the means and ends of the classroom? Inclusion for what? How can ethnography and/or composition reveal an “unseen” public through music? Students will assess their own intentions, actions and group consciousness and dually engage with participants during and after the project. The results of the project will be written into the final paper, and reflected on by each individual. 

Paper Two: Following the group project, students will reflect on the nature of relationships during the project (inside and outside of the class). Was power enacted in varying degrees of solidarity or saviorism?  How did relationships evolve during this time period?  Did the project change power dynamics and allow for minoritized voices to find more agency? 

Now, circle back to classroom literature and add sources to their bibliography. By listing the intended outcomes of the project and unexpected ones (positive, curious, or negative), how might the literature better inform future musical plans and actions? Redesign your project with a more nuanced framework. Explain how the process of learning information, reflection (reading, writing and discussion/dialogue), and action— musical praxis—informs us as learners and doers.

Social Identity and Stigma

In the Context of an SJD Psychology Course

Designed by India Johnson

Assistant Professor, Department of  Psychology. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Psychology of Social Identity & Stigma is a Social Justice & Diversity (SJD) course and by enrolling in this course, I fully expect that you be prepared to C.A.R.E. 

 What is C.A.R.E.? Specifically, you will CHALLENGE yourself and assumptions about privilege, power, and oppression, ACCEPT that being committed to the work of social justice can be incredibly draining (mentally, emotionally, and physically) but that it must be done, REFLECT on how you act to contribute to oppression of marginalized groups, and choose to EVOLVE and do the work to change social justice inequity. In other words, the assignments in this course.

CARE Reflection Papers: As noted earlier in the syllabus, the goal of this course is to explore the psychological processes underlying social identity and stigma, with an explicit focus on how oppression, privilege, and power contributes to identity formation, development, and maintenance. Committing to such a goal will require constant critical self-reflection, informed by relevant scholarship on these processes.

To help you facilitate this goal, across the term you will be asked to submit a minimum of seven CARE Reflection papers, each worth 10 points each. Your submission should adopt at least one of the CARE goals, and connect that goal to the content of the previous week’s readings. Across your seven submissions, at least one submission should be dedicated to one of the above (i.e. Challenge, Accept, Reflect, or Evolve). Be sure to explicitly identify which of the CARE goals your paper will focus in the header of your submission, and use APA format for all in-text citations. I recommend you begin your CARE Reflection with a brief summary of assigned readings for that week’s submission, before explicating how the content relates to your commitment to CARE.

Course Content to connect one or more CARE themes to:

  • Us vs. Them;
  • The Need to Belong vs. The Need to Stand Out
  • Development
  • Categorization
  • Gender
  • Transgender Identity & Sexual Orientation
  • Religion & Weight Stigma
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Multi-Racial Identity; Intersectionality
  • Identity-Safety

Social Identity & Stigma “Who am I” Paper (25 points total): Following the first two weeks of the semester, you will complete a two- to four-page paper connection your own identities to the readings. Your paper should identify how the readings inform your understanding of your own identity development, formation, and maintenance. Likewise, your paper should also address the ways in which your identity

In the context of an SJD Health Care course:

Designed by Andrew Schmelz

Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Reflection Assignment

At the end of each continuance class session, students will write (in Canvas) a short reflection responding to the prompt:

“How will I use the information from pre-readings and that we discussed today in my future practice?”

Written reflections are intended to prompt deeper level thinking about the course and its relation to students’ personal attitudes, beliefs, and vocation. Because of this, reflections will only be scored based on whether or not they responded to the prompt. As attendance in continuance is mandatory, students must be present in class to obtain credit for the reflection unless previously excused by the course director.

Debate Assignment

Many of the continuance class topics will include time for the debate assignment. At the beginning of the semester, students will be divided into groups of 2 or 3 and assigned to one of the topics listed in the table below. Students should prepare to argue either the AFFIRMATIVE or NEGATIVE side of each topic, as this will not be revealed until the lecture period prior to their debate.  This requires students to put themselves into the gray areas of the content, find the answers that may exist from different views, and ultimately engage with the questions themselves to explore their own views.

Podcast Assignment

Students are asked to go and find the stories that relate to the class discussions and topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion within health care and then use a podcast medium to tell those stories.  This will ask students to investigate an area of concern important to them and identify the meaning of the narrative that is most important by doing the storytelling.

In the context of a Food Injustice course

Designed by Jamie Valentine

Assistant Director, Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability

Class journal and weekly reflections:

  • Before each class, reflect on the readings in your journal. Develop three to five questions that you have about the topic, article, or offer a different perspective (which we will discuss in class). 
  • At the end of each week, respond to the following questions with the week’s topics in mind. 
    • How does this topic connect (or not) with your ethics?
    • Describe any injustice in the system.
    • How could you incorporate this knowledge/way of being into your life and/or future career?
    • Does this knowledge have any impact on how you engage with the world around you?
Final Reflection and journal:

Reread your journal and highlight/circle repeated words used throughout your class reflections. Create a word art (most used bigger). Write a two- to three-page reflection to your most used words and synthesize your change in understanding (in)justice in the food system over the semester. Reflect on using community and individual empowerment to create change and how you can play a role in creating justice in the food system. 

Deliverable: Combine all your reflections into a journal with your word art and final reflection. Submit as one document.


In the context of a Spanish language learning course:

Designed by Liliana Goens

Senior Lecturer, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Immigration and Refugee Project

Students will research aspects of immigration and refugee experience. Students will do an oral group presentation and write an individual composition. Both will have a rubric including grammar expectations as well as SJD goals.  The oral part is a report on the findings throughout their research process. The written part is an individual composition, about their own story.  The written component will implement a personal reflection component; therefore, this will create connections to the self, to the world and to the text. Ultimately, a vocational voice could arise as a possible outcome of this project.

The composition should include the following content:

  1. Students will describe family origins, hometown in relation to immigration, diversity, and demographics.
  2. Students will describe (if possible) any traveling abroad or living in other places experiences. Include examples of experiences with diversity.
  3. Students will describe any previous personal experiences with immigration issues and/ or new information they learned in other classes or just learned from the class presentations.
  4. A reflection about their own story/experiences and their project.  

In the context of Anthropology and Folklore courses:

Designed by Tom Mould

Professor, Department of History and Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Five Years from Now…and Beyond

*We could post the entire assignment with permission

Reflection Assignment


  • To synthesize some of the major issues discussed in our class
  • To connect course topics and themes to issues in your own personal and professional lives
  • To consider the kind of life you hope to lead 5 years from now


  • Review the “Five Years from Now…and Beyond” goals on the syllabus. Choose at least one, but as many as you like, and respond to the following prompts:
    • Why did you choose this goal? How do your personal, professional, and/or intellectual interests that intersect with this goal?
    • What will it look like for you to meet the goal? Imagine hypothetical scenarios where you are meeting the goal.
    • What will you need to do between now and then to be able to make that hypothetical a reality? Be intentional about the process involved, not just the beginning and end.
    • How will your community (local, global, familial, ethnic, etc.) be impacted if you are successful in meeting this goal?
Reflection Journal Assignment

*We could post the entire assignment with permission

Goal: To regularly reflect on your work in the community and connect your experiences back to course readings, student learning outcomes, and personal growth goals.

General guidelines: During the semester, you will keep a journal where you reflect on your experiences working in the local community. To help you critically explore your experiences, there are some general guidelines for each entry, as well as some specific prompts for each time you hand in your journal.

Identify encounters with community members that you found significant, interesting, and/or connected to our course.

For each of your three submissions, you should have at least one entry that follows the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (GRC, see below). You should engage all the steps in the GRC; just be sure you don’t miss the “Text” section where you connect to course material.

For other entries, you can take a more free-form approach. Just be sure to move beyond the superficial and connect your reflection to 1) personal growth, 2) intellectual growth, or 3) course material (or all 3!).

Submission One: Initial submission

Your first journal submission will come early in the process. You should have at least two entries but feel free to include as many as you like.

Submission Two: On-going fieldwork

Your second journal submission will come after you have completed all or most of your fieldwork.

Submission Three: Final submission

Your final journal submission will come at the end of the semester and should include the items listed below.

  • One entry reflecting on the overall experience. Be sure to address personal, intellectual, and course related connections.
  • One entry reflecting on how your approach and commitment to service has evolved over the semester. Be sure to also address how you expect to engage in service in the future, connecting to our conversations about social justice.
  • One entry reflecting on how your work this semester has contributed to your personal and professional goals.
  • One entry providing advice to next year’s students.
Storytelling in My Field Project

Relevant Course Student Learning Objectives:

  • Appreciate the centrality of stories and storytelling in the realm of politics, medicine, business, society, and the construction of identity.
  • Conduct fieldwork and document narrative traditions in local communities
  • Consider how course material applies to one’s own vocational interests


Identify someone currently working in the field that you hope to work in someday. Talk with them about the stories they share as part of their job. Record the interview and at least two stories they tell related to their work (use the “Narrative Collection Form” to present the stories, along with its relevant contexts). Analyze the stories and discuss how stories are used and viewed within this occupation. Conclude by noting how you plan to use stories when this becomes your occupation. Four- to five-page paper.

In the context of an FYS class

Designed by Rob Stapleton

Senior Lecturer, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

A Culminating Writing Project: A Braided Essay of Personal Experience

You will write a piece of creative nonfiction that does the following:

  • Employs the framework of memoir. Your work will recall a personal experience(s). This personal history does not need to be epiphanal, but should intersect with the next bullet point.
  • Explores an injustice. This may be something local and personal, or more global and philosophical. The terms are yours to define.
  • Embodies some of the rhetorical techniques of the jeremiad.
  • As we learned and discussed earlier in the year, your nonfiction piece needs to embody the elements of sound narrative writing: sensory images, active verbs, economy w/language, and dynamic voice (fresh word choice, vary your sentence structures).
  • This may be a braided essay or it might be told in sections, ala Kincaid in A Small Place. Your call.
  • Your finished essay should be 1500–2500 words.
  • You will be sharing these in small groups, so plan accordingly.


In the context of a GHS SJD course:

Designed by Julie Searcy

Instructor, Department of History and Anthropology, College of LIberal Arts and Sciences

Content Specific Values Sort Exercise
  1. I handed out a stack of values (Links to an external site) on cards. I asked students to sort these values into 5 piles (Most Important to Me, Very Important to me, Important to Me, Somewhat Important to Me and Not Important to Me). There were about 95 values to sort, so it took them a bit of time. 
  2. Then I asked them to choose the values most important to them and rank the top 5-10. 
  3. I asked them to free write for 5 minutes about the process of sorting and what they saw as the source of their values (what shaped their values?) . I then asked them to take a picture of all their values so they would have access to it for a reflection later.
  4. Then I asked them to consider genetic engineering as they sorted their values again. I framed it as "Which values are Most Important etc, when considering whether or not researchers should let "gene drive" mosquitoes loose in Burkina Faso to control for malaria. (We'd talked about  this specific case quite a bit before this activity) 
  5. When they were done I asked them to rank the top values again. 
  6. I asked them to free write again for 5 minutes considering what the process of this sort was like and if/how their values changed. 
  7. We then had a class discussion on the process
  8. I followed this up with a larger reflection paper about the Genetic Engineering unit. 

Reflection Papers:

You will write 4 informal papers (1,000-1,250 words) over the assigned books for each unit. They are pass/fail so if you follow the guidelines below you will receive full credit.

A reflection paper invites you to draw on your own experience. In a paper like this, you...

  • bridge comprehension of the book with your own knowledge and experience in order to grasp the reading with greater depth
  • integrate your knowledge and experience with the book and the concepts in it by drawing on concrete examples from both the book and your life
  • question your assumptions about the book – it invites you to step back from your own prior beliefs and arrive at a more complex, or new understanding of a reading, issue or life experience.

A reflection paper is different from a research essay:

  Reflection Paper Research Essay
Structure Can have an open structure that connects, explores and integrates course content with life experience, thoughts and feelings. Formal: each paragraph provides supporting evidence to prove a thesis statement.
Thesis Statement Generally doesn’t require a controlling idea, however, is often exploratory and or argumentative. Organized around a central claim, principle or argument.
Point of View First Person (I) Generally third person
Conclusion Does not need to be conclusive, but can identify questions and gaps in knowledge, make connections or challenge prior assumptions. Concludes by summarizing evidence presented; may also suggest questions for future research.

A strong reflection paper...

  • makes insightful and unexpected connections using examples
  • reevaluates prior assumptions
  • develops narrative voice and a unique writing style
  • incorporates brief quotes from the course material

Common errors in reflection papers:

  • disengaged from course content and/or experience
  • unfocused stream-of-consciousness writing or brainstorming
  • an uninformed, unstructured or disorganized response