UW School of Music: Carillon TowerEstablished in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984, the A. E. Havens Center for Social Justice is dedicated to promoting critical intellectual reflection and exchange, both within the academy as well as between it and the broader society. The Center is named in honor of the late Professor of Rural Sociology, A. Eugene Havens, whose life and work embodied the combination of progressive political commitment and scholarly rigor that the Center encourages.

The traditional tasks of critical social thought have been to analyze the sources of inequality and injustice in existing social arrangements, to suggest both practical and utopian alternatives to those arrangements, and to identify and learn from the many social movements seeking progressive social and political change. These tasks are as relevant today as ever. Indeed, we face a variety of challenges, both new and enduring, that demand creative critical reflection. These include the increasingly integrated and global character of capitalist economic development, the durability of racial and gender oppressions, the threats of global environmental catastrophe, and the failure of many traditional models of progressive reform.

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Upcoming events


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Forward 2016

Building the Social Justice University

Forward is a weekend gathering for community activists, students, and educators seeking intensive training blended with freewheeling discussion and relaxation. In keeping with the Wisconsin Idea, its central goal is to provide participants the opportunity to build relationships, strengthen networks, and develop visions and strategies for progressive change on campus and within the broader community. 

Previously known as RadFest, this is a participant driven forum that builds on more than three decades of gatherings hosted by the Havens Center. The gathering is held the weekend following Memorial Day (June 3-5) at Upham Woods, a beautiful retreat center located on the Wisconsin River just north of the Dells. The program includes time for hiking, canoeing, bonfires and music, as well as free childcare.

The theme for 2016 is "Building the Social Justice University." It's no secret that universities don't live up to their potential as resources for social justice. How can students and educators become more relevant for social justice both on and off campus? This gathering is an opportunity to address this question directly. In particular, it will focus on 3 general themes: (1) The Workplace of Higher Education; (2) Social Justice Research; and (3) Campus-Community Organizing. We are looking for proposals of discussions that would fit under these three themes, broadly defined. 

We hope you will contribute to making Forward 2016 an exciting and productive event. The cost of the gathering, including lodging and meals, is very modest and determined by ability to pay. Register here

For more information, or to propose a session, contact Patrick Barrett at barrett@wisc.edu or call 608-262-0854.