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

Contemporary Latino Politics from DREAMers to Voters

Melissa R. Michelson
“Mobilizing Inclusion: Getting out the Latino Vote”
Tuesday, April 21, 4pm, 206 Ingraham Hall
“Living the DREAM: The Political Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth”
Wednesday, April 22, 4pm, 8417 Social Science
Open Seminar for Students, Faculty & Public
Thursday, April 23, 12:20pm, 8108 Social Science

MELISSA R. MICHELSON is Professor of Political Science at Menlo College. She received her B.A. in political science from Columbia University in 1990, master’s degrees from Yale University in 1991 and 1994, and her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1994. Her major strands of research include Latino political incorporation, field experiments in voter mobilization of ethnic and racial minorities, and field experiments on fostering attitudinal change on polarized political issues such as same-sex marriage. She is co-author of the award winning book Mobilizing Inclusion: Redefining Citizenship through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), as well as Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth (Paradigm Publishers, September 2014). She is currently working on another book manuscript, Listen, We Need to Talk, contracted with Yale University Press, which uses field experiments to explore how to generate attitudinal change on contentious political issues such as same-sex marriage. She has published dozens of articles in peer-reviewed academic journals and a dozen chapters in edited volumes. In her spare time Dr. Michelson knits and runs marathons.


Colin Gordon
"The Fire This Time: Ferguson, St. Louis, and the American City"
Thursday, April 23, 4pm, UW Memorial Union, Old Madison Room (3rd floor), 800 Langdon St.

COLIN GORDON is Professor of History and Public Policy at the University of Iowa.  He is the author of Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City, which traces the transformation of metropolitan St. Louis in the 20th century, focusing on local regulation of land use, including restrictive deed covenants, real estate restrictions, and municipal zoning; and most recently, Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality, which traces the causes and consequences of economic inequality in the United States. Previous books include New Deals: Business, Labor and Politics, 1920-1935; and Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health in Twentieth Century America. He is a senior research consultant at the Iowa Policy Project, for which he has written a number of reports on health coverage, economic development, and wages and working conditions (including the biennial State of Working Iowa series).  He received his PhD (History) at the University of Wisconsin and previously taught at the University of British Columbia. 


Camp Upham Woods, June 5-7, 2015

Forward 2015 is a gathering for community activists, organizers, students and educators from a broad range of social movements to come together for a weekend of freewheeling discussion and relaxation.

The central goal of the gathering is to contribute to social movement building by providing participants the opportunity to build relationships, strengthen networks, and develop visions and strategies for progressive social, economic, and political change.

This is a participant-driven forum. In addition to planned activities featuring leading activists from across the region, there will be opportunities throughout the weekend for anyone to initiate a conversation on any topic.

Some topics for discussion currently being planned are: 

  • Environmental Justice
  • Black Lives Matter Movement  
  • Food Justice Movement  
  • State Budget Battles
  • Higher Ed in the Age of Austerity    

Forward 2015 will take place on the weekend of June 5-7 at Camp Upham Woods, a beautiful retreat center located on the Wisconsin River just north of the Dells. There will be time for hiking, canoeing, bonfires and music, along with free childcare and a children's program.

Forward 2015 offers a space to bring together hands, hearts, and minds to reflect and recharge as we discuss the world we live in and how to change it.

We hope you will contribute to making Forward 2015 an exciting and nourishing event.

The cost for the conference (including lodging and meals) is very modest and determined by ability to pay. 


The cost for registration is between $79 and $119 per person for six meals and two nights of lodging. The registration fee includes meals from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch, as well as board.

An optional seventh meal (Friday lunch) is available for an additional cost. 

Fees will vary depending on one's income and lodging preference.

A single day-option (no overnight) is also available at $42.

We have limited capacity. To secure your spot, you must register by Friday, May 22. We cannot guarantee space will be available after the 22nd. May 22 is also the last day when you can cancel your registration and receive a refund. Any cancellations received after the 22nd are non-refundable.

The conference begins on Friday evening, June 5, at 5pm, and ends late afternoon on Sunday the 25th. One-day options are also available. 

To register, visit http://tinyurl.com/pyuryfb.

For more information, contact Patrick Barrett at pbarrett@ssc.wisc.edu or call 608-262-0854.