Targeted Universalism

The challenge of othering and belonging is the challenge of our time. Putting these ambitious changes on the agenda for equity advocates cannot be more critical.

Targeted Universalism is a much-needed framework for putting belonging into practice—for grounding the idea of what structural belonging and inclusion can look like in its most robust and radical sense.

We have seen a strong turn for social justice organizations to orient around equity, structural change, and new narratives or storytelling. This language represents an important insight. The potential of employing these critical ingredients is muted if our practices and strategies fail to pursue a rich understanding of equity and the diversity of people who will benefit from its realization.

Targeted universalism is a method to design efforts to make transformative or transactional changes. Most importantly, it encompasses a process that can make sure that all changes—big or small—are aligned to create the world we urgently need.

In its name, targeted universalism signals flawed policies that are either targeted policies or universal policies. Targeted universalism addresses the weaknesses and strengths of these two types of policies. In so doing, targeted universalism is conceptually and operationally different—it is not simply an amalgamation of each type.

Neither universal or targeted approaches are able to accomplish swift, lasting, and largescale transformative change. We refer to targeted universalism as equity 2.0 because the framework puts equity into practice while bringing to fruition the full potential of focusing on equity over equality—one of many critical distinctions necessary to respond to the diverse forms of othering that we have to dismantle.