The Initiative for Just & Sustainable Communities (IJSC) is an interdisciplinary action oriented academic program to enhance university and community collaborations that build commitments to social justice. The IJSC expands the community engagement collaborations of the University’s Center for Community Safety (CCS) that were primarily focused on underserved, predominately minority communities beset by inequitable rates of crime, poverty, health and shelter relative to the majority population. By establishing the IJSC, WSSU is able to demonstrate how to study and lead in challenging traditional assumptions of how to educate/learn, how to do economic development, how to lead and govern and particularly, how to think about health equity, education, community sustainability, diversity, and community empowerment. Importantly, the IJSC champions a new concept of learning that integrates the need to expand knowledge, ask appropriate questions within a futures context and connect diverse ideas for the purpose of continuous innovation.

The IJSC undergirds the institutional and individual interconnections of campus and community life to expand the knowledge and development of leaders who serve the world with compassion and commitment to just and sustainable communities in which all citizens have the capacity to thrive.

IJSC's mission is to facilitate and support the mutual beneficial exchange of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and collaboration that build the commitment to social justice and the attainment of just and sustainable futures for all people.

IJSC strives for continuous innovation through interaction of scholarship and collaboration to create and sustain the transformation needed to achieve beneficial societal outcomes for individuals, organizations and communities.

The IJSC was officially established in February, 2016. Its creation represents the natural evolution of community engagement and collaboration facilitated and supported by the University’s Center for Community Safety (CCS) since 2001. The CCS came to be recognized as a national model for university and community collaboration and resulted in WSSU becoming a national training partner for the U.S. Department of Justice. In this capacity, WSSU delivered training and technical support services to over 40 jurisdictions across the country and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Through this work and its involvement in local initiatives, the blueprint for the IJSC was first introduced in 2010 when the CCS and now IJSC Director, Alvin Atkinson, commented that “healthy and vibrant communities required more than just crime reduction, they also required improving the factors that impact the quality of life, including residents’ health; educational achievement; environment; access to quality, affordable housing and neighborhoods; and civic involvement.” This belief which is firmly rooted in the history and legacy of WSSU; embodies a deep individual and institutional responsibility to creatively respond to all forms of injustice and work toward the establishment of just, equitable, and sustainable cultural, economic, political and social principles and practices that affirm the worth, value, and dignity of all people.

The IJSC is a platform for a concept of learning that integrates the expansion of knowledge to connect diverse ideas for the purpose of continuous innovation. It integrates the three foundations of the IJSC: Scholarship, Research and Collaboration in order to support and sustain a transformative learning environment for campus and the community. As a result, the IJSC provides fertile ground for connecting the intellectual work of faculty and students with the policies and practices that drive the issues and outcomes we value and produces the creative activity and innovation needed for communities to thrive.