About

Why Study Social Difference?
We live in a world where social differences - between women and men; cis and trans; rich and poor; global north and global south; between black, brown and white; and between people who are differently abled - have been made to matter. They undergird inequalities, local and global. They limit cultural horizons. How are social differences created and institutionalized? How has science grounded or undermined such differences? How do liberal democracies founded on principles of equality tolerate profound injustice? The discrete categories by which we identify people (such as gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity) have proven inadequate to understanding the complexities of power in our world. It is urgent that we understand the mutually constituted categories of difference that shape our social world and their cultural and economic impacts.

The Center for the Study of Social Difference is an interdisciplinary research center supporting collaborative projects that address gender, race, sexuality, and other forms of inequality to foster ethical and progressive social change. Bringing Arts and Sciences faculty into conversation with faculty from Columbia’s professional schools and Global Centers, along with scholars, artists, writers, and policymakers in the United States and abroad, CSSD deepens Columbia’s partnerships at home and abroad.

The Center's work has two overarching research themes: Women Creating Change and Imagining Justice.