Paul Merage School of Business Joins UCI’s Poetic Justice Initiative

November 18, 2022 • By Yasmine Nahdi

The UCI Paul Merage School of Business is thrilled to be a part of UCI’s Poetic Justice Initiative. As part of UCI’s Black Thriving Initiative, the Poetic Justice Cluster strengthens bonds between UCI and community-based organizations to celebrate how Black culture, history, and art offer alternative visions of well-being and safety despite the effects of mass incarceration and policing.

UCI’s Poetic Justice Initiative focuses on Black students, faculty and community members in order to shed light on the impact that Black narratives have had in Southern California. Black artists have produced new narratives, images and social practices that challenge systemic anti-black racism and affirm Black life and humanity. Their works, broadly conceptualized by the term poetic justice, elevate the level of public conversation on how the history of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration directly affect virtually every civic and social institution, including higher education. The initiative works in alignment with UCI’s Black Thriving Initiative cluster, which is implemented in the schools of Social Ecology, Humanities, Art and the Merage School and strives to hire faculty whose work elevates Black communities.

The initiative is led by Sora Han, an associate professor of criminology, law, and society as well as the Chair of the African American Studies Department as well as Liz Glynn, Associate Professor, Department of Art.

“The Merage School is really setting a high bar in terms of implementing the best practices of holistic review in faculty hiring and making sure that the new faculty we hire will contribute to Black thriving on our campus,” said Professor Han. “The candidates we hope to invite to campus through the Cluster will bring a wealth of professional and real life experiences with the sorts of educational policies and programming that sustain meaningful equity and inclusion. It has been seamless working with Merage faculty. [Merage] has truly been leading in all respects. It has been truly energizing to work with the Merage faculty on this larger project of using storytelling as a way to amplify the experiences of Black communities in California.  Merage has been a co-sponsor on some early fall programming that Poetic Justice has organized for the year, in partnership with LIFTED, our BA program for incarcerated students, and PrisonPandemic,” Han said.

The events included a talk with investigative journalist Keri Blakinger and a PrisonPandemic exhibit on stories from people incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. On what Merage’s involvement with the Poetic Justice Initiative means for UCI, Han added, “Merage has been a part of a campuswide collaborative atmosphere [that is] trying to promote the power of storytelling to address the various social harms caused by the criminal justice system.”

“The kind of knowledge that the Merage school has about organizational capacity and building structures of organization that can help move an enterprise along is something that we are so fortunate and feel lucky to tap into,” Han said. “It makes me feel like we’re trying to make a public university truly serve the public, so it’s important.”

Find more information about UCI’s Poetic Justice Initiative here.