Division of Social Sciences

Anti-Racism Report

Dec. 2, 2021

Central Priorities

Departments and programs in the Social Sciences have outlined a range of anti-racism plans, some of which they have been engaged with since the founding of their departments.

The Department of African and African and American Studies was created in response to the social and curricular marginalization of Black students at Brandeis, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies has been grounded in intersectional approaches since its founding. As one of the largest divisions in the School of Arts and Sciences, Social Sciences still has much work to do across the division. Looking forward, the division will prioritize:

  • Diversity in faculty hiring.

  • Decolonizing and diversifying courses and syllabi.

  • Consciously recruiting more diverse undergraduate students and supporting them through their majors and minors.

  • Consciously recruiting more diverse graduate students and supporting them through their programs.

Context and Progress to Date

Diversity in faculty hiring has been a remains a priority across the division and has been pursued more successfully in some fields than in others. Cluster hiring has been helpful historically, and additional strategies are required to continue to attract and retain the most talented faculty of color at the university.

Departments and programs in the Division of Social Sciences will continue and/or begin to invite more graduate students of color to give talks in their departments outside of hiring seasons to familiarize them with the university. We will continue to work with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in advertising searches as widely as possible and in conducting interviews and campus visits in ways that emphasize the true diversity of the university community. We also support the continuation and growth of the Faculty Mentoring Program for the support it provides to junior faculty and the ways it supports the building of cohorts and intellectual communities.

Several departments and programs in the social sciences have already begun to decolonize and diversify their course offerings and others are beginning to do so. This includes revising introductory and core courses to include diverse voices on syllabi and name the ways those voices have and have not been part of conversations in these fields. Resources available through the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity are assisting with the review of syllabi. One department is also piloting an equity liaison position to act as an in-house consultant on equity and racial justice in the department, helping to review syllabi, coordinating information gathering, working with other department members on relevant events and curricula, and facilitating communication with students and other units across the university.

Finally, departments and programs in the Division of Social Sciences are consciously working to recruit more undergraduate and graduate students of color and support them through their majors and programs. At the undergraduate level, this includes revising introductory and core courses, as described above, as well as beginning to track undergraduates through some majors to understand when and why they opt in and out. In one department, this includes creating a peer mentoring program that matches seniors with first- or second-year students to provide support in navigating the major, finding research and internship opportunities and interacting with faculty. In another, this includes creating new low-stakes but meaningful opportunities for history students and other people on campus to engage in story-gathering and storytelling, becoming authors of their own history. Departments are committed to participating in climate studies, expanding the number of peer teaching assistants who are students of color, and supporting student-focused programming, including internships that attract diverse students.

At the graduate level, curriculum is central as are social and emotional support. Some departments are beginning to partner with the Graduate School to offer this support collaboratively, especially by collaborating across the division to help BIPOC students find larger cohort-like communities at Brandeis. Others are intentionally building more structure and guidance on professionalization (both within and outside the academy) for graduate students as well as diverse career pathways pursued by students from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. The division will advocate for additional funds for DEIS scholarships that support first-generation students and students of color and other resources that will enable more graduate students of color to matriculate and graduate from the university.

Metrics and Timeline for Next Steps

Faculty are currently working on decolonizing and diversifying courses and syllabi and on designing programs to recruit and retain students of color. As budgets allow, they will continue to work of diversify the faculty. Each of these efforts has clear metrics and measures of success as outlined in the attached TILT framework. Several chairs object to the uniform process through which this work is proceeding and doubt the commitment of the university to acting (rather than just talking). We hope this summary allows us all to act together for the good of the university.

Anti-Racism Plan Framework