Professor Daniel Heath Justice
Award of Excellence 2010 recipient
Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize
Daniel Heath Justice has devoted his life and work to advocating for the civil and human rights of the silenced and dispossessed peoples of our world. That statement was made by James Cox, director of the Indigenous Studies Graduate Portfolio at the University of Texas, and someone who has known Professor Justice for 10 years.
Professor Justice came to the U of T from the University of Nebraska in 2002 and has made positive and lasting contributions ever since. He became one of the most important scholars and teachers of indigenous literary nationalism, especially through his ground-breaking book, Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History.
His positive and lasting impact is felt directly at the U of T through his one-on-one work with native students, his ability to bring previously inexperienced young people to thinking about social justice and creative activism against oppression and his encouragement of both graduate and undergraduate students to take on community service as part of classes.
Professor Justice is actively involved in the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, which allows him to further mentor students in how to engage in the kind of provocative and respectful scholarship he publishes. There are very few people teaching in this important field at U of T, and Professor Justice makes it flourish as a scholar, teacher and administrator.
Lisa Brooks, from Harvard, visited U of T in 2007 and met some of Professor Justice's students. “Not only were they forming sophisticated intellectual arguments and questions, it was clear that human rights issues and complex moral questions were inextricably intertwined with their academic pursuits…it was clear that Daniel had encouraged the development of critical thinking skills and complex analytical frameworks, as well as the development of critical inquiry as an intellectual strategy, for both academic work and student activism,” Brooks says.