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Social Justice Ethical Analysis


The Social Justice Ethical Analysis Paper assignment will provide you with an opportunity to use a social justice lens to think about and react to a public health problem of your choosing.

Several readings from Week 2 serve as resources for understanding what is meant by social justice and how to apply a social justice lens to public health problems (I HAVE ATTACHED SOURCES BELOW). As stated by Beauchamp, “Under social justice all persons are entitled equally to key ends such as health protection or minimum standards of income.” Gostin and Powers stated in Health Affairs, “Justice stresses the fair disbursement of common advantages and the sharing of burdens. It captures the twin moral impulses that animate public health: to advance human well-being by improving health and to do so particularly focusing on the needs of the most disadvantaged…Public health based on social justice gives rise to important policy imperatives such as improving the public health system, reducing socioeconomic disparities, addressing health determinants, and planning for health emergencies with an eye on the needs of the most vulnerable.” In addition, Gostin and Powers also say, “Social justice views all lives as having equal value, so there is a moral justification for fair allocation from a global perspective.”

This assignment will allow you to address a public health issue that affects a particular population inequitably. You will summarize the issue and use a social justice lens to describe what can or should be done to address the issue.


You may select your paper topic from the examples below or choose another topic of personal interest related to health ethics. If selecting something NOT on this list, please email me with your desired topic.

  • Abuse against the elderly in nursing homes / assisted living facilities
  • Access to feminine hygiene products for people who are homeless
  • Access to affordable and high quality health care for people living in rural areas
  • Access to affordable and high quality health care for undocumented immigrants
  • Access to humane and effective treatment for individuals with severe mental health conditions who may be a danger to themselves or others
  • Employment issues for people with disabilities
  • Gender-affirming health care for transgender and gender non-conforming youth
  • Gentrification in Portland
  • Native American boarding schools
  • Opioid addiction in military veterans
  • Police violence towards BIPOC individuals and communities
  • Restricting abortion at 8 week gestation
  •  Violence against Native American and Indigenous women and girls

The following is a framework for your paper. Use this to build your outline before writing your paper. The questions below each heading are meant to prompt your thinking. Specific answers to each question are not necessary, but the answers may help to guide you in writing the paper.

  • Introduction to the social justice/public health issue?
    • Provide a summary of the issue and the population(s) it affects
    • Why is this issue a problem? Why is it a problem for this population?
      • Use data to make your case
    • Who is causing the harm?
  • What are the hazards to health or possible adverse health outcomes related to the social justice issue?
    • What are the short- and long-term physical, psychological, emotional, etc. health outcomes for the population you are focused on because of this problem?
    • Are there secondary populations who should also be considered?
  • What are the barriers to controlling hazards to prevent death and disability from this issue?
    • What are the barriers to intervention? Why are or aren’t things being done to fix this problem?
  • What collective action is and/or should be occurring?
    • What is being done? What could be done?
    • Are there groups working collectively on the issue?
      • If yes, who are they? How are they operating? Who are they partnering with?
      • If no, who should be working on this? o Are there other untapped opportunities?
    • How can/should fair-sharing of burdens be used?
      • How do we share burdens within the context of your issue?
      • How do we make it so people who don’t have a stake in the issue will care about this problem?
    • Conclusion
      • Tie it all together. Restate why this is an important social justice/public health issue to be addressed and what is or should be done about it


  • This paper should be between 6 and 8 pages in length, not including your citations.
  • It will be helpful to use section headers throughout the paper to organize and to ensure that you are covering the required elements. I strongly recommend starting with an outline
  • Additional references are required for this paper. A minimum of 6 outside, academically appropriate references are necessary, though you may use more. These references can come from peer-reviewed journal articles, textbooks, and other academic literature sources such as Public Health Post or the Health Affairs blog. Articles from reputable news sources may be used but should not make up all your references.
  • Cite all the work that you put into your paper. If it’s not your idea, it needs to be cited.
  • Your paper should be formatted in APA style (1” margins, double-spaced, 12-point text size), including all references. Please visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL (Links to an external site.)) for support with citation and reference standards.
  • Carefully proofread for spelling and grammar.