Writing for Social Justice

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

social justice badge

This badging pathway is meant to help you form a personal theory of social justice and understand the role that writing and research plays in coming to voice about human rights and social issues. During your journey toward earning this badge, you will think globally and act locally, using reading, writing, and research as vehicles for understanding and engaging social justice broadly while developing particular expertise with one issue of your choice.

This badge pathway includes articulating your vision of social justice and watching TED talks to expand on these ideas.  It culminates with an interactive teach-in demonstration, complete with resource materials that you’ve written, that will help your peers understand, engage, and take action on an issue of your choosing.

Note: This is a research-intensive badge.

If you enjoy this badge, consider signing up for WRT 303: Public Writing in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

Level One Activities

  • Choose two (2) TED talks to watch from this playlist on social justice or find two of your own on social justice topics that are particularly important to you.
  • As you watch, take notes on the videos. Write a 250 word summary for each TED Talk that you chose. Remember to use the author+rhetorically accurate verb+umbrella statement in your first sentence (see summary guidelines in Resources). Then use the jot dots to capture main ideas.
  • Write a 250-word response to the videos by addressing the following question:  How do these videos expand, contradict, or support your current understanding of social justice?
  • Browse these websites that describe, discuss, and explore a host of social justice issues:

After browsing, choose a social justice topic that you are interested in for this project. Remember, you must describe an inequity in society that can be demonstrated through evidence gathered from your research. One way to think about this is to identify a group that lacks access to something available to others (food, safety, job opportunities, etc.)

stop_sign       SHARE AND DISCUSS YOUR TOPIC WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR.            stop_sign

Level Two Activities

  • Watch the InfoRhode library tutorial videos. You can skip the videos titled How to Find Books and How Do I Choose the Best Databases for My Research? Summarize what you learned from the videos (write 250 words).
  • Find 5–7 credible, reliable sources. Your sources must answer the following questions:
    • What general information do you provide about this issue to help your peers understand it? How do you explain the issue in a way that makes sense and is relatable to your peers?
    • What is the history of this issue?  What are future projections?
    • Does this issue have a local face? What does it look like in South Kingston?  In RI or in your home state?
    • Who is primarily impacted by this issue?  Who benefits and who suffers? How?
    • What are the factors contributing to this issue?
    • What are the consequences of action or inaction?
    • How, exactly, can your peers take action?  What are their choices and pathways to get involved?  How can they make a difference?
  • Create an annotated bibliography. Each entry MUST BE IN MLA FORMAT and must include all of the following:
    • A summary of the source (use summary guidelines in Resources)
    • An evaluation of the source (use the CRAAP test).  You must state why the source is credible, timely,  and accurate.
    • A discussion of how the source answers one or more of the questions above

Level Three Activities

Create a design plan and an asset list for your “teach-in” (see below)


At that time, you should also schedule a class date and time for the teach-in.

Create a 35-minute teach-in.

Your teach-in must include the following:

Research-based writing in one of these forms: slide shows, brochures, a video essay, hand-outs, etc. Written resource materials for the teach-in should be primarily in your own words, meaning that you will paraphrase sources, using direct quotations only when necessary.  Look for opportunities to make your information more interesting and accessible to your audience by visualizing data. You must have at least three original data visualizations in your  research-based writing, and you must cite the data source(s you used to create these charts, graphs, infographics, etc. All sources should be cited both in-text ON EACH SLIDE and in a reference list, using MLA format.

Participatory activities for your classmates (they must do something): you might create a video game that explores the issue and have students play the game during the teach-in.  You might create a zine and have students read a portion and contribute their stories or drawings to it.  You might hold a kangaroo court. You might compose a short film and have a viewing and discussion. You might write a skit. You might have have students make dolls, build with Legos, or perform a play. The possibilities are endless here as long as the activity works to build understanding and engagement. However, you may not use Kahoot.

You can find helpful teach-in resources on HIV/AIDS and the worker exploitation in the chocolate industry here.

An opportunity to take action. Ask your peers to take a particular action (write a Rhode Island politician, sign a petition, take a pledge, share their stories, march on the Quad etc.) on the issue and provide ways for them to do so during the teach-in.

A survey. Before your teach-in, prepare a short survey that you will distribute to your peers at the end of the teach-in. This survey should gather feedback on how well you met the needs of your audience and how well you achieved your purpose.

Hold onto these survey responses! You may want to reference them as evidence in your Final Learning Reflection.


Required evidence to submit in Google Folders for this pathway:

Level 1 Folder

  • Two 250-word TED talk summaries
  • 250-word response on social justice

Level 2

  • InfoRhode summary
  • Annotated bibliography with 5–7 completed entries with MLA citations

Level 3

  • Design plan and asset list
  • Written research-based writing for teach-in
  • Peer review

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