Center Governance

Center By-Laws (as approved September 2017)

  1. Mission Statement: 
    Stony Brook University’s Center for the Study of Inequality,  Social Justice and Policy (CSISJP) seeks to stimulate and support inquiry into entangled inequities such as of race, ethnicity, gender, (dis)ability and environment, especially as these intersect with inequalities of class, work and wealth; and to promote innovative approaches and collaborations for social justice.

    We live in an era driven by worsening inequalities that beg for greater academic understanding and engagement.  Globally, yawning gaps in wealth and opportunity have spurred mass migrations and demographic shifts. Nationally, the decline of a middle class has trapped millions in low-wage jobs or poverty, while riches and power  increasingly concentrate in the hands of a few. Centuries of racial disparities and violent oppression endure; from the systematic anti-blackness and police shootings that inspired Black Lives Matter to mass incarceration disproportionately targeting people of color and the recent alarming rise of neo-Nazis and white nationalism. Other inequalities, whether from the exploitative pressures of Neoliberal labor regimes or the slow violence of an environmental toxin or a warming planet, seem woven into the very places where we live and work. Fuller understanding of these inequalities, from their causes and consequences to the questions of justice that attend them, demands that we recognize just how deeply interconnected they may be. We need fresh veins of interdisciplinary discussion and scholarship as well as new forms of scholarly engagement in classrooms and communities beyond.  

    In this context, the Center aims to provide a regional and national forum for substantive exploration of a wide array of topics pertaining to inequality and social justice, through supporting and promoting:


    • Scholarly interchange and collaboration
    • Curricular and student enrichment, other engagements with inequalities and injustice within the academy
    • Public and community engagement and collaborations beyond the academy
    • Dialogue between scholars, activists, and public policy makers

    One commitment of our Center is intellectual: to an intersectional and contextual understanding of inequality.   We seek to illuminate interlocking relationships between inequality and multiple systems of oppression, axes of domination defined by class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, geography, and other markers of constructed difference, as embedded in contexts of wealth, poverty, and power.   The Center’s second keystone commitment is to promoting social justice, both within and beyond the academy, in communities and causes on Long Island, Greater New York, and beyond.  A third core of our mission is to bridge the gap between academics, community groups, and public policy makers by sponsoring dialogue and debate over public policies that can address our society’s yawning inequalities and injustices.   We thereby aim to deliver critical and interdisciplinary perspectives on what can and should be done to address crucial needs, with special regard for the most vulnerable, whose voices are often least likely to be  heard.


  2. Director
    1. Who, terms: The Director must be a faculty member associate of the Center and have tenure in a department at SBU. The Director serves for a three-year term of beginning July 1 and ending June 30.
    2. Duration: A director may serve for up to six consecutive one-year terms contingent upon a favorable evaluation after the first three-year term conducted by the Steering Committee and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. To serve for any additional consecutive terms requires election by a two-thirds majority vote of the Center Steering Committee.
    3. Selection: Candidates for Director will be chosen by the Steering Committee in consultation with the Dean.  The Fall Term before the sitting Director finishes his or her final term, the Steering Committee will appoint an ad hoc Nominating Committee from within its ranks, who will open nominations for names for suitable faculty from the appropriate disciplines (social sciences and humanities, within CAS), and put forth nominees to the Steering Committee for a vote. Their selection must be approved by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), who will then appoint the new Director for a renewable three year term.
    4. Relations with Steering Committee:  
      1. The Director is a voting member of the Steering Committee. The Director chairs Steering Committee meetings, and shall convene the Committee at least once a month in September, October, November, February, March, and April, business warranting.
      2. The Director may not act on any matter that would ordinarily require the consent of the Steering Committee.  Such matters include: major, agenda-setting decisions about programs, projects, and expenditures.  For these decisions, the director should make every reasonable effort to contact all voting members to obtain the approval of a majority of those members.  
    5. Financial accountability: Typically, once every year, in the spring semester, the incumbent Director shall report to the Steering Committee and the Dean about the Center's finances. This report shall include information about every Center account, but no accounts held by individuals.
    6. Course release: in each year of his or her directorship, the director shall receive a one-course release from teaching as compensation for this work.  The course release may be taken during either spring or fall semester, at the director’s discretion.
  3. Steering Committee
    1. Responsibilities: advising the Director on programming and fundraising; spearheading and sharing ideas for new events, collaborations, and pursuit of grants or other fund-raising; hosting events when required; attending regular SC meetings, up to three per semester. SC members should also be active in helping to build partnerships with community and policy-oriented organizations.
    2. Size: should be limited to 11 members maximum, 6 members minimum
    3. Quorum: with 9-11, at least seven members should be present for a binding vote; with 6-8, at least five members should be present for a binding vote.
    4. Composition and selection
      1. Selected by the Director and approved by majority vote of the existing Steering Committee, with a view to the following criteria:
        1. The whole of the committee should include members from a representative array of social science and humanities disciplines from CAS departments
        2. Appointments should be made with strong attention to ethnic, racial, and gender and/or other diversity representation as well as disciplinary coverage.
        3. At least one member of the committee should be a specialist in each of the Center’s areas of thematic specialty.  
        4. Membership should be roughly balanced between tenured and non-tenured faculty members.
      2. The ordinary expectation is that they will serve three-year terms, starting July 1 and ending June 30.
      3. Substitutions: Should vacancies occur during a member's term, the Director shall appoint a Center faculty member associate to serve for the remainder of that academic year.
  4. Additional Governance Bodies
    1. As the Center evolves, the Director and Steering Committee may contemplate the creation of an Advisory Board, Trustees, and other bodies of governance
  5. Assistant Director
    1. As the Center evolves, the Director and Steering Committee may contemplate the creation of a position of Assistant Director
  6. Faculty Affiliates
    1. Faculty member affiliation is open to all faculty members who either teach a course with content that significantly addresses themes of the Center; conduct research in the thematic areas of the Center; or otherwise demonstrate an intellectual/pedagogical commitment to the aims and concerns of the Center.  
    2. Nomination and selection: Applicants seeking faculty associate membership in the Center shall be nominated to the Steering Committee either by themselves or someone else; applications must include the individual's curriculum vitae and a statement describing the nature of their interest in CSISJ, and designating which thematic area or areas they wish to affiliate with.  Faculty member affiliates may be elected either by a unanimous vote of the Steering Committee or by a simple majority vote of those attending a Members Meeting or participating in electronic balloting.
    3. Duties and commitments:  Center faculty member associates shall be active in Center affairs and, as needed, agree to be willing to serve on standing committees of the Center.
      1. Each affiliate should also pledge to become involved in online discussions, meetings, planning and balloting of Center activities in their designated thematic area(s).
      2. Affiliates are expected to participate in Center-wide deliberations, including electronic balloting and meetings as appropriate.
      3. Renewals: once elected, faculty member associates will receive a written request from the Director annually, each fall, asking if they wish to renew their membership. If they fail to participate regularly in Center activities, the Director can recommend to the Steering Committee that their faculty member associate status be rescinded. 
  7. Student Role
    1. Steering Committee student representation [not yet approved; under deliberation 
      1. Each year, at least two graduate students will be appointed as voting members of the steering committee
        1. Initial appointments will come from the director
        2. As the Center evolves, appointments may then come from a vote from graduate student associates (see below)
      2. In subsequent years, at least two undergraduate students may be appointed as non-voting members of the steering committee
        1. Initial appointments will come from the director
        2. As the Center evolves, appointments may then come from affiliated student organizations or other means.
      3. At the director’s discretion, some Steering Committee meetings and discussions may be reserved for faculty only.]
    2. Graduate student affiliates:
      1. Open to graduate students currently enrolled and in good standing at SBU who have research, teaching, or outreach interests that significantly address the themes of the center.
      2. Graduate student associates will be expected to help coordinate and publicize our programs with undergraduate groups and campus organizations that address center themes.
      3. Applications for graduate affiliate membership shall be nominated to the Steering Committee by themselves or someone else. Applications must include a description of the research interests of the student and key departments and programs the student regards as core to their intellectual community on campus; applications should also include a digital photograph of the student. This information will be posted on the Center website unless the student requests that it be omitted for some reason. The Steering Committee approves affiliate status by a majority vote.
      4. Renewal: Once elected, graduate and community associates will receive a written request from the Director annually, each fall, asking if they wish to renew their membership. They are expected to participate regularly in Center activities, and if they fail to do so, the Director can recommend to the Steering Committee that their graduate student associate status be rescinded.
      5. When graduate student associates complete their degree programs and depart from the university, they are typically designated as "CSISJ Alumni" by an affirmative vote of the Steering Committee. Once assigned, this is a permanent designation unless the Steering Committee votes to remove it; it does not require ongoing involvement with Center activities.
    3. Undergraduate student organization affiliates
      1. Applications for affiliate membership shall be nominated to the Steering Committee by themselves or someone else from the group. Applications must include a description of the interests of the group and key departments and programs the group regards as core to their intellectual community on campus. This information will be posted on the Center website unless the student requests that it be omitted for some reason. The Steering Committee approves affiliate status by a majority vote.
      2. Group affiliates are expected to participate regularly in Center activities, to spread word about Center events, and are encouraged to initiate their own activities under Center auspices.   If they fail to do so actively, the Director can recommend to the Steering Committee that their associate status be rescinded.
  8. Guidelines for Designating Theme Year, Developing Activities
    1. The Director in collaboration with the Steering Committee will formulate an overarching theme for each year’s activities.   The theme should be sufficiently broad and inclusive to encompass at least two of the Center’s thematic areas beyond “Class, Labor, and Inequality.”   Those Steering Committee members specializing in the featured areas will then share leadership with the Director in developing that year’s program.  
    2. Each thematic area of the Center will be featured in the year’s theme at least every third year (that is, during each term of Directorship)
    3. Each year’s program should include events tying that year’s theme to issue of  Class, Labor, and Inequality.
    4. In years when a particular thematic area is not featured, Steering Committee members specializing in that area are also encouraged to initiate events exploring ties between that area and the yearly theme.
    5. Yearly activities should be planned with a view to
      1. Exploring, fostering, and consolidating sustained collaboration between
        1. Interested SBU faculty in different departments and schools
        2. SBU faculty and those in other colleges and universities
        3. SBU faculty, community leaders, and policy-related institutions
      2. Producing concrete and lasting outcomes, whether in-print, online, or in terms of continuing social ties
      3. Suggested timeline for developing theme year
        1. Spring: settling upon theme with title for following year; plans formulated and invitations out for following year events.
        2. Fall of theme year: first set of public events and workshops; theme-related projects launched; though big events for spring should already be set, any remaining plans will formulated and invitations sent out for spring events.
        3. Spring of theme year: second set of public events and workshops; projects brought to fruition;  settling upon theme with title for next academic year; plans formulated and invitations out for following academic year events.
  9. Center Faculty appointments--As the Center evolves, the Director and Steering Committee will discuss with Center faculty, affiliates, and the Dean about possible directions.
  10. Community Group Involvement and Affiliation [still under discussion]
  11. Guidelines for community collaborations
    1. The Center partners with organizations that seek to understand and redress historical and contemporary inequalities, to promote social justice, and to support the welfare of minority communities disadvantaged by various forms of domination.
    2. The Center connects academics and community groups that are challenging class, racio-ethnic and other economic or environmental forms of oppression as well as sexism, ableism and related forms of domination.