Saint Leo University's Courageous Conversations Series continues on Thursday, October 15, with a look at social justice and advocacy. The series is a free, virtual discussion of topics included in Bryan Stevenson's book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, from different perspectives across multiple disciplines. The session will run from 7 – 8 p.m. (ET), via Zoom.

The public is invited, and it is not necessary to attend all sessions, but everyone is invited to do so. Reading the book is not required, but is recommended, or participants can view the movie that now is available on cable and online.

Facilitators for the October 15 session are Dr. Ebony Perez, chair of the Department of Undergraduate Social Work and assistant professor of undergraduate social work, and Christina Cazanave, director of field education and instructor of undergraduate social work.

Examining this narrative of Just Mercy through a variety of lenses will provide a forum to discuss issues of race and racism; the impact of socioeconomic status; ethics and America's criminal justice system; the structure and role of nonprofit organizations; how religion and spirituality shape perceptions of and interactions with the criminal justice system; as well as juvenile justice; education; and mass incarceration.

More companies and organizations are pledging to embrace diversity and inclusion and their brands responded to the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests throughout the United States. 

"2020 has revealed issues of social justice are more present than ever and individuals, communities, and even companies have proclaimed their allegiance to social justice," Perez said. "However, the term 'social justice; is broad and in some ways non-specific. So, what do we mean when we say 'social justice?' Is a protest the only way to advocate for social justice?"

The October 15 Courageous Conversations program will provide a discussion of the various types of social justice and advocacy. "We also will look at the importance of advocacy in social work practice and beyond to support our community and look at operating in a more just and equitable manner," Perez said.

The Courageous Conversations Series will continue throughout the academic year and includes these sessions:

  • November 19, criminal justice/ethics, facilitator Charlotte Braziel, instructor of criminal justice;
  • January 21, business/nonprofit organizations, facilitator Dr. Pamela Lee, director of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and associate professor of management;
  • February 18, religion/spirituality, facilitator Dr. Marc Pugliese, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of theology and religion; and,                                
  • March 18, education, facilitator Dr. Fern Aefsky, director of graduate studies in education and professor of educational leadership.

Join In The Conversation

The Courageous Conversations Series will be held monthly with the exception of December. All sessions will be 7 – 8 p.m. (ET) via Zoom,

For more information, contact Nikki Heister, special programs manager, Department of Public Safety Administration, at