Intersectional Justice Program

Recent events have activated a different kind of self-reflection and pressure. The four-hundred-year long effects of state racism and violence are felt—once again—on a collective level. This past summer, the Office of Student Affairs worked with Assistant Dean of HSS Nada Ayad to organize readings, discussions, and a lecture series around the theme of intersectional justice. The goal of this program is to navigate urgency with attentiveness and care to address this country’s ignominious past, which bleeds in its ever present.  Through a series of discussions of communally selected theory, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as larger lectures, the sessions ask us to pay attention, and to collectively forge a path towards clarity and justice. The resonance between and among texts is as beautiful as it is urgent.

Program Goals

  • Unite our perspective and thinking through studying a common theme 
  • Establish our commitment to dialogue and civic engagement 
  • Launch incoming students into their Cooper academic community, specifically focusing on critical thinking, close reading of texts, accountability, and reflection 
  • Create community across schools, and classes 
  • Expose our students to the multiplicity of disciplines, pedagogies, and interests of our faculty 
  • Critically and dynamically engage with the world around us 
  • Introduce students to the idea that each individual's career choice (as an artist, architect, or engineer) has both the capacity and the responsibility to consider justice as intrinsic to their practice


In the spirit of The Cooper Union mission, the Black Student Union and the Cooper Climate Coalition, as well as several faculty and students, were deeply involved in the articulation of the program as well as in contributing to the reading list and suggesting speakers. If you would like to be involved, or would like to suggest a reading or a speaker, please email

Program Components

Orientation        lectures       Readings








    • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

    • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

    • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

    • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.