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Social Justice and Inclusion Platform

Social Justice and Inclusion Platform

Social Justice and Inclusion at the University of Deusto

Since its foundation, the University of Deusto has made efforts to promote social justice and inclusion through its core areas of action: education, research and social engagement, which have been historically linked to important societal issues like human rights, migration, poverty, peace and conflict, development, cultural diversity, and humanitarian action.

Over the last three decades, the University has been able to consolidate its expertise in these areas and has played an important role in the establishment of local and international research networks around such topics. One example is the Thematic Network on Humanitarian Development Studies (HumanitarianNet), a network of excellence funded by the European Commission, ideated and chaired by UDEUSTO, and composed of more than a hundred European universities and research centres. On the same issue, the University chairs the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA), which runs the European Master on the issue, and is part of the Network of European Universities on Professionalisation of Humanitarian Action (EUPHRA). At doctoral level, the University coordinated a Marie Slodowska Curie Initial Training Network to train professionals in Sustainable Peace Building Research and Training (SPBUILD) which came to an end in 2013.

On the topic of migration, in 2004, the University launched IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion) a network of 30 European universities and research centres specialized in the study of migration and social integration which was also funded and recognised as a network of excellence by the European Commission. As a result of its research efforts and in order to train the professionals needed to address the global challenge of migration, the University formulated a Joint European Master’s in International Migration and Social Cohesion (MISOCO) in 2010. Drawing from this program, UDEUSTO initiated INTEGRIM, an ongoing Marie Slodowska Curie Initial Training Network comprised of 8 European HEI, and 6 non-academic partners, which trains early stage researchers on the issues of integration and international migration; its pathways and policies.

The University, together with another 41 European universities, is also part of the European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation. This educational programme has provided remarkable opportunities for collaboration in research and training across countries, disciplines and world regions.

The issues of social justice and inclusion have also been addressed in the fields of Education, where research has been conducted on the role of education in promoting social inclusion and enhancing quality of life among vulnerable groups; Ethics, by addressing social development and transformation, peace and conflict from a perspective that puts dignity at the centre of human action; and Employment, and the social economy as tools for social inclusion and well-being.

The Platform

The Interdisciplinary Research Platform on Social Justice & Inclusion addresses one of the foundational objectives of the University of Deusto and, as such, one of its priority areas. By means of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research, the Platform aims at understanding and acting upon the structural causes and consequences of inequality and exclusion at the personal, community and societal levels. Accordingly, its research themes delve into social systems (e.g. economic, political, cultural), and the public policies, programmes and strategies of different sectors which pursue social justice, inclusion, and cohesion.

The Platform’s topics are directly linked with the University’s Strategic Plan (Deusto 2018) ‘Service and Commitment’ and are consistent with its action lines. Particularly, they are linked to Line 1 ‘Commitment to Social Justice’ which seeks to strengthen the University’s social contribution through strategic research, and to “foster research lines, teams and projects centred on the fundamental problems to build a more just society” (Deusto 2018 Strategic Plan).

Like all Platforms, this one stems from the Excellence, Research & Transfer project of the Strategic Plan which aims at promoting the internationalisation, interdisciplinarity, and excellence of research in the University’s strategic areas as a response to social challenges and in connection with public and private agents. The Platform is also linked to the projects on Social Responsibility (P7) and Social Engagement (P8), thus reinforcing the University’s capacity for transfer and social projection, and consolidating its vocation to innovate for social transformation.

This way, the Interdisciplinary Platform on Social Justice & Inclusion is well aligned with the University’s Strategic Plan (Deusto 2018) and with the social problems identified in Europe as priorities. The challenges identified by the European Commission are not foreign to those found at the domestic and local levels. Among the most important are the escalation of inequalities and social exclusion, whose structural causes have become more complex and beg for more detailed studies of, for example, the means and forms of production, the distribution of wealth, and the unequal use and enjoyment of common goods such as natural resources whose sustainability has become jeopardized.

The growing gap between the rich and the poor and the enlarged proportion of the latter represent global challenges for human rights, democratic life and social cohesion. The recent uprising of radical movements is but an example of the consequences of the erosion of sociability and conviviality in our societies. Likewise, the economic crisis and the levels of unemployment, particularly that of the youth, are common concerns.

In face of these pressing challenges, the University is compelled to act upon them with the purpose of achieving a better understanding of the causes and consequences of different phenomena that dehumanize society and deteriorate quality of life, and to respond to them by ideating solutions that may contribute towards social justice and inclusion.