1136 Lane Hall
204 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI
Phone: 734–764–9537
Fax: 734–764–9533


Reproductive Justice

Directors: Ed Goldman and Alexandra Minna Stern
Co-Directors: Lisa Harris and Tim Johnson

What is the role of large, interdisciplinary academic institutions in the reproductive justice movement? What should a research agenda focused on reproductive justice encompass and what sets of methods are most fitting and productive for this research? How can academics, working independently and collaboratively, produce scientifically robust and evidence based research that resonates with and fosters reproductive justice advocacy?

These are the questions that our Reproductive Justice Faculty Program will explore over the next two years with the aim of developing a multi-pronged interdisciplinary research agenda, initiating this research, and growing the RJ community at the University of Michigan.

This IRWG Faculty group plans to builds on the momentum of the Reproductive Justice Michigan Meeting planned for May 29-May 31, 2013 that we are organizing under the aegis of the Sexual Rights and Reproductive Justice program in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This conference proposal was conceived with the awareness that to date reproductive justice agendas have been advanced primarily by advocacy groups, especially women of color advocacy groups, around the country and around the world.  We believe it is time for academic institutions to step up – though not step on the toes of leaders who have been doing this work for decades. 

We hope that the conference will provide a forum for academics, advocates, and activists to delineate areas of research in a variety of fields and interdisciplinary areas on which academics and advocates can collaborate. These might include research on the impact of the massive wave of fetal personhood legislation passed in states across the country, including how feticide laws are being used against pregnant women (as powerfully demonstrated in a recent co-authored article published in Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Lawby advocate Lynn Paltrow and academic Jeanne Flavin); discrepant explanations for higher rates of sterilization among women of color; the relationship between the environmental justice and reproductive justice movements; and the role of language in the implicit and explicit value setting of women’s lives and bodies.

In addition to fostering innovative interdisciplinary reproductive justice research, this faculty program would help to build bridge across schools and units at the University of Michigan. Reproductive Justice has a home base in the Medical School through the SRRJ, and we would like to establish another – equally important – home base in IRWG, an institutional arrangement that would magnify and build the RJ community and scholarship at the University of Michigan.


We propose the following pair of interlocking activities:

1)   Faculty Research Cluster. A faculty research cluster with approximately 12 to 15 members from across campus. We are in the process of identifying this cohort of colleagues and our aim is to do so as we organize the pre-conference symposium (scheduled for the afternoon of May 29, 2013) that will bring RJ faculty, staff, and students together at the University of Michigan. Our research cluster will meet eight times over each year over the next two academic years (2013-2015) allowing members to present their research and begin to hone potential research areas and interdisciplinary projects. We believe the activation of this cluster is a crucial step since there are many faculty whose work is directly situated in or overlaps substantially with RJ, but who do not know each other. At the first six meetings faculty members will present their research and the last two will be devoted to brainstorming and beginning to concretize research agendas, with attention to potential longer-term funding sources.

2)   Speaker’s Series. We realize that this University can be saturated with speaker’s series. However, we believe it is important to bring in several external speakers who provide exemplary models of RJ scholarship, and anticipate significant interest in these speakers. With this in mind, we will invite four speakers (two domestic and two international) over the course of the 2013-2014 academic year to dialogue with our research group and give public presentations (and again in 2014-2015). This would be a themed programmatic effort that will enable us to sustain momentum from the RJ conference through further national and international networking and intellectual exchange. We will try to use speakers interested in starting or furthering collaborations that arise out of the Michigan Meetings conference.