Social Justice

Add your project to the list

Macalester has had a long history of incorporating social justice and sustainability in coursework, co-curricular activities, and operations. The  definition of sustainability developed out of a sustainability strategic planning process, explicitly includes social justice:

“Sustainability is the continuous effort to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs by working toward a healthy environment, social justice, and a strong economy. At Macalester, sustainability is infused throughout our core values of academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.”

Below are descriptions of the social justice and sustainability projects that the college has undertaken. Updates and additions are welcome.


Facilities Services Department

  • Focus Beyond Transition Services Program
    (formerly TTI – Transition to Independence) employs special needs students who are 18-21 and have goals in the transition areas of post secondary, employment and independent living. While at Macalester, students gain real work experience in recycling, housekeeping, and landscaping.  
  • Network for Better Futures
    A program whose mission is to “reduce the economic and social costs of high-risk adults, primarily African American men, with histories of incarceration, substance abuse, mental illness, chronic unemployment, and homelessness.” The college hires crews to work on move out, grounds, major cleaning of the college houses during the summer, and deconstruction and demolition jobs. Through this employment, individuals acquire not only income but valuable job experience that would otherwise be very difficult to attain.

Civic Engagement Center

  • Macalester’s Civic Engagement Center (CEC)
    CEC has onnected students with community service activities for more than 20 years and has a student worker dedicated to environmental issues. Relationships with local environmental organizations are nurtured as opportunities for community-based learning courses, student research, off-campus student employment (work-study), and volunteering. An Action Fund provides funding for students’ entrepreneurial community projects.
  • Socially Responsible Banking
    The Institute for Global Citizenship has developed a relationship with University Bank, a local bank committed to green lending, green banking, and neighborhood development. The college has invested a portion of our financial resources with University Bank. Students are involved in environmental research with the bank, and an ATM in the Campus Center provides an opportunity for Macalester community members to participate in socially responsible investment .
  • Move Out Garage Sale  
    Macalester’s Habitat for Humanity group conducts an annual garage sale. At the end of the school year this club collects massive bins full of unwanted items. Objects range from furniture to clothes to books. They store all of the material over the summer and have a garage sale at the beginning of the next school year. Leftover objects are then donated to the Salvation Army.

Department of Multicultural Life

  • The Department of Multicultural Life promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion at Macalester to help foster a sense of belonging on and ownership of the campus. We believe that a commitment to sustainability begins with this shared sense of ownership for the environment. By raising awareness of the related values of sustainability and multiculturalism, the DML supports sustainability efforts at Macalester and more broadly. Creating an inclusive community that recognizes the social and historic experiences of marginalized people will encourage a shared responsibility toward both human and natural resources.

Campus Life

  • Sustainability is connected to several of the learning outcomes on citizenship, identity, social justice, social change, and engaging in local, national, and global contexts.

Sustainability Office

  • The sustainability office includes its own work-study position that works specifically with social justice issues.