Translating Social Justice Research Into Action

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Aaron C. Rollins, Jr

“Blazing New Trails in Areas of Urban and Public Policy”

An advocate and professional, Dr. Aaron C. Rollins is a catalyst for positive change in Louisville.  Dr. Rollins received his Ph. D. in Public Policy and Public Administration from Mississippi State University and became a faculty member in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville (UofL) in January 2014. His transformative research focuses on issues pertaining to urban policy, social equity, organizational effectiveness, education policy, and the politics of race with a focus on disadvantaged and marginalized citizens.

Dr. Rollins teaches the required Foundations of Public Administration Theory course as well as Organizational Behavior and Strategic Management and Leadership. Yet, he is most proud of his Social Equity in the Public Sector and Cultural Competency in Action courses which provide a framework to examine factors related to discrimination as well as classism, racism, and sexism in terms of political history, power, stereotyped perceptions and practices across society, and amongst groups and individuals.

Likewise, Dr. Rollins serves as a role model and mentor to students, facilitates the recruitment of talented minority high school students, and conducts thought-provoking research - presenting at numerous regional and national conferences like American Society of Public Administration: Social Equity Leadership Conference (Nashville, 2015) and the Urban Affairs Association (Miami, 2015).  Additionally, Dr. Rollins’ remains active in the community and serves on several UofL committees. It’s no wonder Dr. Rollins has received a host of awards and recognitions such as “Who’s Who of Louisville (2015), Minority Access Inc. ‘National Faculty Role Model Award’ (2015), and American Society of Public Administration ‘Founders Fellowship Award’ (2014).


A critical thinker, Dr. Rollins’ not only challenges the status quo, but also encourages others to dig deeper into the dimensions of social equity and justice: a great benefit to the University and Louisville community at large. His most recent work entitled, ‘Philosophy in Public Administration: Recognition Theory’s Role in Developing Cultural Competency’ demonstrates social justice in action. The article identifies how previous efforts to promote cultural competency within public sectors have failed to achieved desired results. However, Dr. Rollins’ research suggests a new path. An interdisciplinary approach utilizing the characteristics of “self-formation axes” within Axel Honneth’s ‘recognition theory’ to fundamentally shift larger held attitudes, policies, and practices to “promote the comprehension of , and commitment to, cultural competency amongst public administration practitioners, scholars, and students”  in order to “foster strong commitments to justice, social change, and social equity.” (See abstract and full article link below)

The Muhammad Ali Institute looks forward to Dr. Rollins’ future contributions to social justice and recognizes his great benefit to the UofL campus and local community.


Full bio on Dr. Rollins.

Philosophy in Public Administration: How Recognition Theory Informs Cultural Competency By Dr. Aaron Rollins