Leading in the service of justice and equity – William & Mary News

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Across the university, William & Mary faculty members have long forged influential scholarship around issues of race and social justice — but often in their own “silos,” as Professor of Law Vivian Hamilton puts it.
The year-old Center for Racial & Social Justice, housed within the Law School, is knocking down those walls to “broaden our impact and bring together the tremendous expertise we have across the disciplines,” she explains.
“We have people who are doing this profound work, but we hadn’t been talking to one another and working together,” says Hamilton, the center’s director. “By forming collaborations across the university, we’re exponentially increasing and magnifying the effect that William & Mary will have in advancing these issues.”
Professor of Law Vivian HamiltonSupported by Law School Dean A. Benjamin Spencer and W&M Provost Peggy Agouris, Hamilton set the groundwork over the past year for the center’s long-term growth and impact. She long envisioned such a hub at William & Mary, building on the nation’s racial-justice awakening in summer 2020 to gather momentum for the idea.
In formal terms, the center’s mission prioritizes “racial and social justice by educating students and the broader community, building students’ capacity to engage in antiracist and social justice work, and engaging in legal and multidisciplinary research and advocacy aimed to inform the public, advocates, and policymakers — both in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationwide.”
In practical terms, that means bringing together faculty members and students for programs and events, cultivating research teams to dig into social challenges, and drawing in alumni and others who are drawn to the work. The center counts four affiliated faculty members — in addition to Dean Spencer — who have joined to reinforce its work.
Among the center’s progress and projects:

In its second full year, the center has “begun to institutionalize itself in a way that’s more visible and predictable” across the university community, Hamilton notes. Among its plans, the center will formalize a speaker series that has included panel discussions of experts on topics including reproductive rights, critical race theory and the rights of transgender students. The center also plans to host a daylong symposium on LGBTQ+ rights.
“After adopting new tools to teach and learn on campus during the pandemic, we’re in a better position to leverage virtual connections like Zoom and can take advantage of both worlds — in person and online,” Hamilton says.
Learn more about the Center for Racial & Social Justice at law.wm.edu/socialjustice.
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