Envision a society in which all  
communities benefit from key rights,  
resources, and opportunities.

Envision a society in which all
communities benefit from key rights,
resources, and opportunities.

Centers and Institutes: Our Commitment to Social Change

Adler University pursues social change through service to communities, especially to disenfranchised and marginalized populations, and through the Centers and Institutes for Social Change.

The University differs from traditional education to prepare practitioners imbued with social responsibility, and we build new models for engaging communities in social change. We do this by addressing the wider systemic and structural issues that underlie poor health and that make traditional service necessary in the first place. We have innovated our education and training to prepare practitioners as highly skilled advocates.

The Centers and Institutes support students, faculty, and community partners to transcend established approaches to wellness. We train socially responsible practitioners for this work in multiple disciplines—in academic programs that go beyond traditional practice.


Social exclusion is a concept that is used in many parts of the world to refer to the complex processes that deny certain groups access to rights, opportunities, and resources that are key to social integration. At the Institute, we use the phrase to refer to processes by which entire communities of people are systematically blocked from rights, opportunities, and resources (e.g., housing, employment, health care, civic engagement, democratic participation, and due process) that are normally available to members of American society and that are key to social integration.

Questions of agency - that is, who or what is responsible for social marginalization--loom large in social exclusion literature. Typically, responsibility is attributed to structural features of society: laws, public policies, institutional practices, organizational behaviors, and dominant ideologies, values and beliefs. These structures often convey unjust outcomes resulting in disparate social consequences for different communities of people.

The Institute on Social Exclusion seeks to:

  • Analyze the ways in which structural features of society condition human welfare
  • Stimulate public dialogue on the underlying causes of disadvantage and on possible solutions
  • Engage in practical work that sheds light on and addresses social marginalization

Our purpose is to build strategic alliances to ensure that all members of society have safe housing, quality education and healthcare, fair terms of employment, nutritious food, personal safety, and judicial equity. We work to dismantle the barriers to these essential rights, opportunities, and resources by advocating for structural change in our society.

We pursue this through three areas of activities:

  • Research: we identify the structural origins of social disadvantage and inform structural approaches to change
  • Awareness: we increase public understanding of how disadvantage is structured and why structural interventions are imperative
  • Outreach: we respond to community-identified needs.

Adler University students can become involved with the Institute through independent study projects, the Community Service Practicum, work study, and volunteer activities. For more information, please contact us via e-mail.  

Our Funders

The work of the ISE has been made possible through generous support of:

  • The American Psychological Association
  • The Chicago Community Trust
  • The Field Foundation of Illinois
  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Pierce Family Foundation
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • The Spencer Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, SAMHSA
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • JCCC Foundation


Our projects are diverse. Learn more.

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