Barrett, The Honors College at ASU and Macaulay Honors College at CUNY create Justice and Equity Honors Network to address issues of injustice, incivility and political disengagement

Home / Barrett, The Honors College at ASU and Macaulay Honors College at CUNY create Justice and Equity Honors Network to address issues of injustice, incivility and political disengagement
December 16, 2020

Elon Graves, a student in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, said young people have a responsibility to stand up and speak out for justice and equity, especially during times of conflict. 

“We’re always responding to brutality against black and brown bodies. We all keep having to teach and protest,” to bring issues to light, she said.

“It’s important for young people to keep learning, to stay engaged and to keep training ourselves to be better humans,” said Graves, a journalism major who has served as vice president of the ASU Black Student Union at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Graves’ comments came during a panel discussion that followed a December 3 online performance of the play Antigone in Ferguson by the internationally-acclaimed troupe Theater of War. An audience of more than 1,000 people from throughout the United States and abroad attended the event, which was co-hosted by Barrett Honors College and Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York. 

Antigone in Ferguson uses the themes of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Antigone, to address the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The play points up the parallels to systemic racism, police brutality, and unequal application of the law.

Barrett and Macaulay honors students, the production’s director, and community members discussed the play’s significance in relation to contemporary issues. 

This event marked the launch of the Justice and Equity Honors Network (JEHN), an interdisciplinary collaboration between Barrett, The Honors College and Macaulay Honors College that will engage honors students and faculty in teaching and learning about issues of injustice, incivility and political disengagement.

Still in the development stages, the JEHN will roll out in fall 2021 and offer students opportunities to learn about justice and equity issues. A longer-term goal is to have a 9-credit JEHN honors certificate program. 

Dr. Olga Davis, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, has been working with Dr. Joseph Ugoretz, senior associate dean at Macaulay Honors College, to develop the JEHN. Faculty from Barrett and Macaulay are working together to develop JEHN classes.

The JEHN will offer online courses, peer-to-peer mentoring, opportunities for apprenticeships and internships, an online platform for networking and collaboration, an annual conference, guest speakers, seminars, and public-facing online galleries featuring student projects. In the future, depending on the novel coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions, the program may include in-person visits to culturally significant sites such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. 

More information about JEHN programs, classes and curriculum will be available in spring 2021.

“We are looking at developing an interest among honors students in what we mean by justice, what it means to have a just society, and what we mean by equity as opposed to equality,” Davis said, explaining that the JEHN came about in response to crises society faces today including a global pandemic, police violence, systemic racism, political polarization, a degradation of civic norms, environmental destruction and economic disparity.

“We hope honors students will see the value of justice and equity and the imperative of it, the value of it. That they uphold the values of humanity and respect for other human beings,” she added.

She said the goal of the program will be to “develop, inspire and encourage honors students who understand and demonstrate the values and ethics of how we should be equitable in society, in politics and in life.”

Honors students of any background and any major may enter the JEHN program, as courses will be interdisciplinary.

“From STEM to business to the arts to humanities, there will be courses that will undergird what honors students are learning (in their majors). No matter what major or year they’re in, we’re hoping honors students will see the certificate program as the foundation of how they will lead and engage with others with new insights and intentional values and purpose,” Davis said.

“Hopefully through this program honors students will be encouraged and inspired to dig deep and look at themselves and decide what kind of leader they want to become, what kind of engineer or teacher or government official or healthcare provider they want to become. We hope they are specifically inspired because they take part in the JEHN and that they consciously think about justice and equity in everything that they do. “

Information for students interested in applying for the JEHN program is at