Women in the United States, on average, earn 82 percent of what men make annually. That number gets even lower if you factor in race as well. Black women make 69 percent of what white men make per year, and Hispanic women are at an even lower 59 percent.

While these statistics are major improvements over the numbers reported nearly four decades ago, it can be seen that improvements can still be made regarding equality between social groups.

On Nov. 17, the UT Leadership and Service Ambassadors will be hosting the "Social Justice Academy" program in the University Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The "Social Justice Academy" is a certificate program designed for individuals interested in taking action for social change on campus and in the community.

Steele Gamble, the Director of Marketing and PR for the Center for Leadership and Service, defined social justice as a concept in which equality and justice are achieved in every aspect of society for all people.

"It includes a vision of safety in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure," Gamble said. "It involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and society as a whole."

Students who attend the "Social Justice Academy" program will hear from a number of Leadership and Service Ambassadors who are experts in their academic field. One such speaker is Dr. Diana Moyer, a Coordinator for the Center for the Study of Social Justice who has taught several courses on education, gender issues and cultural issues. These speakers will discuss diversity, social change, power and influence, and inequity.

However, the "Social Justice Academy" is not solely a lecture-style program. According to Gamble, the program will have an interactive component as well.

"We do not want to talk 'at' participants (for) this entire program," he said. "We will be holding interactive discussions with the participants, so they can personalize our message."

Silas Mason, junior in communications, believes that social justice is an important cause worth learning about.

"We, as students of a great school such as UT, are generally an incredibly privileged group," he said. "To learn about ways to improve social justice in our community and in the world as a whole is the least we can do."

Throughout the semester, the Leadership and Service Ambassadors will present leadership and service programs dedicated to educating and engaging students on a variety of topics. After completing each program, student participants are then "certified" in the specific topic.

Scott Carter, sophomore in communications, thinks that these programs are a great way to inform students about specific issues and motivate them to take action.

"Programs like the 'Social Justice Academy' will do a lot of good for the students of (UT)," Carter said. "First, by educating them about problems such as social inequality and second, by teaching them ways to take action in a responsible and meaningful way."

Registration for the event is currently open to the first 60 students who confirm their attendance. Visit leadershipandservice.utk.edu for more information.