Division of Humanities

Anti-Racism Plan

Dec. 2, 2021

Central Priorities

The Division of the Humanities fosters new approaches to knowledge, and hones students' abilities to think critically and communicate effectively. Our rich course offerings and diverse research initiatives aim to deepen our understanding of the past, enlarge our perceptions of the present and suggest sustainable paths to the future.

Through reading of literatures, discussion, frequent writing and learning different languages from across history and cultures (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Yiddish and the ancient languages, Latin and Greek), studying philosophy and delving into the history of ideas, our students have the opportunity for encountering the world in surprising new ways. The courses in the Division of the Humanities promote openness, flexibility, observational skills, alertness to moral complexity and the sharpening of our human faculties of reason and imagination. As a division, however, we are working hard to find ways to do more to connect our disciplines to the goal of addressing anti-racism and enhancing a sense of individual and social justice. We propose to do this by a deeper appreciation of and admiration for difference, and a better understanding of systemic racism, so that we can root it out of our society. Our priority plans are these:

  • Positionality: Reflection on positionality of individuals and departments.

  • Curriculum: Our teaching, speaking and actions must be done inclusively and with anti-racist intention.

  • Hiring: We must improve DEI hiring processes for both faculty and staff.

  • Outreach: Scholarship in the humanities must be practical, practiced and distinguished from theory and embedded in all sorts of public humanities events, workshops and programming.

  • Recruitment and Retention: More diversity among our undergraduate and graduate students.

Context and Progress to Date

  • Positionality: Reflection on positionality of individuals and departments. We shall seek a better understanding of the historical and current place of all departments and programs in the humanities within racist and white supremacist structures. We have started to make an in-depth study of our courses and our research towards this end. It is possible that we may make changes in the names of departments or programs to better reflect the diversity of our faculty and curricula, and to attract even more diversity to our division.

  • Curriculum: Our teaching, speaking and actions must be done inclusively and with anti-racist intention. We must encourage our students more broadly to explore diversity through our courses, and perhaps offer more specialized courses for rethinking older disciplines. We must commit to these goals annually. Faculty (and staff) must all take anti-racist training in pedagogy, provided by the School of Arts and Sciences. We must offer more courses focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Hiring: We must improve DEI hiring processes for both faculty and staff. We must be more ready to center social justice in our hiring and curricula — to practice principles of decolonialization, where necessary, in our teaching and research. We can achieve this by realigning our curricula and degree plans, by actively seeking to attract more diverse students into our courses, by introducing new courses from existing faculty and by hiring new BIPOC faculty to offer other courses.

  • Outreach: Scholarship and teaching in the humanities must be practical, practiced and distinguished. The humanities must be accepted practice (praxis) providing a roadmap for DEI in all aspects of our lives. To achieve this goal, the Division of Humanities should offer more outreach events, "Critical Conversations" and public humanities projects and activities that emphasize critical reappraisals of the world today in relation to the past, both the ancient and more recent. We should provide more lectures, events and conferences in partnership with other departments within our own division, in connection with other divisions and even in connection with other universities who focus on matters of race, identity, equity and inclusion.

  • Recruitment and Retention: More diverse undergraduate and graduate students and supporting them financially and emotionally through their programs and majors. For example, for graduate students, we can create practica for more training about issues of DEI in academia and professionalization; more DEI training in workshops; and updated websites.

Metrics and Timeline for Next Steps

The faculty in the Division of Humanities is dedicated to the work of rooting out systemic racism; reconsidering our curricula and syllabi to address racism; and increasing the number of events, conferences and public outreach that focus on DEI matters and anti-racist themes, We have begun this work in earnest (in several departments and programs long before the past year). As the university budget allows, we also wish to diversify our faculty more, find more tangible ways to recruit and retain students of color in our fields and offer more help to our graduate students.

Our TILT framework offers some of the metrics we propose for success in these areas. We feel that our collaboration on departmental and program anti-racism documents (and on our division documents) was a productive and positive start to achieving our collective goals. Even if not every chair completely agrees with every priority envisioned here for the Division of Humanities, we are all united in our desire to move forward in a positive spirit for the benefit of the entire university community.

Anti-Racism Plan Framework