Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative


As a two year college proudly situated in the heart of the city, Milwaukee Area Technical College has a deep connection to the community.  Transforming our students' lives and empowering them to transform their communities is our mission. Through our mission, our geographical location, our individual experiences, and our daily interactions with students, we at MATC cannot help but recognize the pressing issues in our community and on our campus: housing and food insecurity, gun violence, healthcare, voting rights, climate justice, educational attainment and a host of others.

The Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative was created out of our realization that if we genuinely want to transform student lives and our community, we must intentionally address the issues and social inequities that students experience and bring with them into the learning environment. Created in 2021 through a private-public partnership, the Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative seeks to celebrate the rich diversity and assets that our students bring to the college while also examining social justice concerns.  In many ways, it serves as an umbrella for bringing together, advancing, and improving the social justice initiatives that already exist at MATC. Central to the goals of the initiative is creating collaborations that engage students, employees, and the community for the common good.

The Initiative's work is founded on the following principles and goals:

  • The celebration of diversity and the assets which groups bring to any community
  • The acknowledgement that social justice is predicated on an awareness of how structures perpetuate social oppression
  • The desire to take positive and proactive action to eliminate inequity
  • The importance of partnerships and collaborations that unite students, employees, and community members

Below are our five key areas of impact. For additional information, contact:

Wisconsin Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton has been appointed MATC’s chair of social justice. Hamilton was chosen from a national pool of applicants based on her proposal to conduct three innovative projects that unite students, employees and the external community in the shared exploration of social justice issues. Hamilton’s residency will begin in April. Read more about Hamilton on her website.

The Social Justice Chair leads the Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative and advances initiatives in one of the five areas of impact.

The Chair’s work will benefit students, faculty, staff, and the communities represented by MATC’s student body by providing a results-oriented, hands-on approach to sustainable changes that address social justice issues.

While there are no limits to the work that can be done, we prioritize projects which engage students and members of our Milwaukee community around equity and social justice issues relevant to our campus and city, including basic needs insecurity, policing, incarceration, racially inequitable outcomes in education, voting rights, health care, and others. Moreover, the Social Justice Chair is expected to help develop the Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative.

In studying the educational experiences which yield the most positive student outcomes, George Kuh identified 10 high impact practices. According to Kuh, HIPs are specific pedagogies that have positive effects on deep learning , student retention, and ultimately student success.  HIPs encourage students to produce educationally purposeful work resulting from sustained engagement with challenges. MATC is committed to the use of HIPs throughout the curriculum.  

The Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative promotes two of those HIPs: service learning and global learning/study abroad.

Our vision is to create new service learning and study abroad options (or to revisit our existing options) so that they 

  • incorporate a social justice focus,
  • are designed with an equity lens,
  • align with curriculum, perhaps across disciplines, 
  • create collaborations between MATC students, MATC employees, and the broader community, and
  • include a "report back" expectation so that students share their findings with the community.

We have an existing infrastructure with staff who can assist with the logistics of these experiential experiences. We seek a Social Justice Chair who has the vision to design the experiences, shape the curriculum, create partnerships, and establish equitable & inclusive policies and processes.

Which authors we teach. What behaviors and outcomes we identify as being the standard. Whose histories we tell. What languages we allow in the classroom. Colonization shapes so much of what happens in higher education.  In the midst of our nation's racial reckoning, the call to decolonize higher education has become louder than ever. Indeed, a 21st century education requires us to create spaces and cultures where students can talk about social injustices, can study counter-narratives, and can critically reflect on power and hierarchy. Most importantly, this must happen in learning environments where teachers respect and call upon the cultural wealth that students bring to the classroom and where both parties learn from each other.

Ultimately, we believe that, as Mintz (2021) put it, "our curriculum, syllabi, classroom cultures, pedagogy and assessments" should reflect our college values. To that end, the Social Justice Chair will create (and then lead) teaching and learning communities which will

  • Develop a strategic plan and timeline for infusing social justice throughout the curriculum;
  • Audit course outcome summaries to ensure that social justice-related outcomes are explicitly stated;
  • Apply existing rubrics, such as the Achieving the Dream, or develop our own;
  • Analyze course materials and course readings to ensure inclusive and accurate representation across multiple dimensions of diversity;
  • Scrutinize assignments to ensure that they foster critical thinking about a broad range of social justice topics and allow student flexibility and innovation;
  • Review assignment rubrics;
  • Identify outcomes, metrics, and tools to measure impact.

Ongoing professional development for faculty is a valued part of our college culture. MATC's Center for Teaching Excellence provides strategic leadership and an array of development options for faculty. Research by Goddard and others has confirmed that high quality collaborative teaching teams can influence teachers' practices and ultimately improve student learning, particularly when these collaborations focus on analyzing student data and developing instructional responses or focus on curriculum and instructional decisions. Our peer coaching model, faculty learning communities, and Teaching Action Plans reflect our belief in this practice. However, no similar model exists for staff and administrators. Additionally, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee offers weekly workshops and other learning opportunities on topics related to equity and inclusion.

The Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative seeks to develop a summer faculty series which focuses on specific, culturally affirming pedagogies, such as community-based pedagogy, place-based pedagogy, and so on.

Conference Series

Our students don't live in colleges; they live in communities. As a technical college, we know that engagement with communities is an integral part of education and professional development.

Too often in the community college world, teaching is prioritized over research. Often, faculty and staff work loads leave little capacity to conduct formal research or to share research findings conveniently. As a result, success happens in isolation, and what little published research is available centers on four year colleges and universities. The Social Justice and Cultural Wealth Initiative strives to create platforms for thought leaders, scholars, and practitioners to come together to share best practices (and our "oops" initiatives, too).

We seek a Social Justice Chair who understands the importance of community engagement and recognizes the diverse academic communities that exist. We seek a scholar who would be interested in engaging our community in candid discussions of social justice challenges and co-creating or sharing actionable solutions which have a concrete impact on the community. This might entail developing conferences, hosting annual summits, planning student showcases, and/or creating a database of social justice oriented conferences.

Lecture Series

For over a decade, and even during the pandemic, MATC has invited nationally renowned speakers to campus to galvanize students, staff, and community members around racial and social justice topics. Past speakers have included these speakers (link)

What are the key expectations related to the Social Justice Chair?

Below are the Guiding Principles of the position:

  1. Chairs are expected to be in residence on the Milwaukee campus, spending a minimum of three hours per week.
  2. Chairs are not lifetime appointments. Chairs may be appointed for a week, a month, and/or a one-semester period. Chairs can be renewed, upon favorable review, for additional terms. 
  3. Chairs are expected to commit to activities, research, and/or initiatives that are related to social justice with a DEI perspective. 
  4. Chairs must commit to pursue relevant partnerships that will strengthen and expand the work of MATC. 
  5. Chairs are expected to be available and be responsive to the needs of the MATC community.
  6. An engagement plan is expected of all Endowed Chairs, followed by reports that address engagement accomplishments, areas of greatest needs and recommendations in the form of an action plan as next steps for sustainable engagement by MATC at the conclusion of the Endowed Chair’s commitment period.
  7. Chairs must commit to providing deliverables in a timely manner and to report progress made to the college’s president.

Are current MATC employees eligible to apply to become Chair?

People who have not been directly involved in a situation can often bring ideas and insights that those who are more closely involved cannot. To benefit from this disparity, the Chair position is reserved for external candidates.

However, we value the contributions that our MATC employees make; therefore, the Social Justice Fellow position is available to internal candidates.

I'm on sabbatical from my college. Am I eligible to apply for this position?

Assuming you can meet the residency requirement for the Chair position, a sabbatical does not disqualify you from applying from our perspective. However, terms of sabbatical differ; thus, we encourage you to review your college's policy related to activities during leaves.

What are the application requirements?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, with the first review on November 15. Completed applications should be submitted as soon as possible after October 31, even if the project is not slated to begin until much later.  Based on the proposed project, the appointment may begin at any point during the 2021- 2022 academic year.

The application includes the following components:

  1. Application form, which includes a biography and your project proposal
  2. Current resume or Curriculum Vitae
  3. Two letters of support
  4. If selected, a photo which can be used on the website and in press releases.

You are strongly encouraged to review information about the Initiative prior to submitting your application.

What benefits do Chairs receive?

Chairs will receive:

  • The opportunity to lead a project of their own design
  • A competitive stipend equivalent to $80,000 annually (prorated based on length of service)
  • A travel stipend to and from Milwaukee, if needed
  • A workspace on campus
  • Access to a modest budget to carry out the project

Is this a year-round position?

Chairs may be appointed for a week, a month, a semester, and/or a one-year period. Chairs can be renewed, upon favorable review, for additional terms.

What are the start and end dates of the position?

It varies. Applicants propose their own start and end dates during the application process.

Who else at MATC would the Chair work closely with?

The Chair will work in close collaboration with 

  • MATC’s Lead Faculty; 
  • the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (including the HSI Task Force and DEI Committee Chairs); and 
  • MATC's Center for Teaching Excellence staff.

Engagement seems to be an important component. What kinds of engagement do you expect?

Engagement methods may include 

  • community speaker/lecture series, 
  • exploration of social justice issues through cinematography and the arts, 
  • partnership with faculty to develop and teach curricula that is inclusive of DEI perspectives through a social justice lens, 
  • partnering with students, faculty, staff and the community to address social trauma issues through seminars, 
  • a Summer Institute on Social Justice, 
  • a Fall and Spring Equity Institute, 
  • engagement with and through MATC’s strategic initiatives including the Cultural Wealth Center, Hispanic Serving Institution, Moon Shot for Equity, Men of Color Initiative, DEI Speaker Series, DEI President Task Force, and 
  • hands-on experiential learning and research.