How well colleges and universities reposition themselves around social justice issues and how they integrate social justice movements into their culture will determine where students attend, where employees work, where donors invest and how alumni engage.

Social Justice Branding

In 2004 Rex Whisman founded one of the first brand consultancies devoted to colleges, universities, school systems and organizations with an education mission. Now more than ever students at those schools and others around the world are holding institutions accountable for adhering to mission and core values, as well as expecting colleges and universities to commit to equality and human rights as strategic priorities. In light of current political developments, student-led social justice movements continue to escalate.

During the 21st century nearly every college and university around the world has developed a brand strategy in an effort to effectively position itself against their competition and to meet its strategic priorities. Institutions that have created brand strategies based on institutional mission, core values and stakeholder engagement have experienced the greatest success. How institutions respond to current and future student demands will impact institutional brand image and reputation.

Rex Whisman provides consultation for how institutions should respond to student demands for social justice in a thoughtful and strategic manner, and how institutions can effectively reposition themselves in a purposeful and sustainable manner by integrating social justice into the institution’s brand strategy.


For the past few years Rex Whisman has conducted extensive research on social justice movements in higher education and the relationship between those movements and institutional brand, enrollment and funding. Student-led movements include racial justice, gender equity, divestment from fossil fuels, campus carry, sexual assault, colonialism and others. At the same time state funding for higher education and the student application pool are declining.   

On hundreds of campuses around the world, students are demanding that their institution commit to equity and human rights. One of the most contentious issues is divestment from fossil fuels. Students advocate that in order to live on a habitable planet, a reduction in carbon producing fossil fuels must take place, and that their college or university must play a significant role by divesting from fossil fuels. Rex Whisman shares his insights, experiences and battle tested wisdom in his research field notes on the divestment from fossil fuels movement.