Advancing Racial Justice

On August 20, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay outlined the first steps the FAS will take to advance a racial justice agenda in the coming year. 

Amplify teaching and research on racial and ethnic inequality

The FAS has reactivated the cluster hire in ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration, with the goal of making four new faculty appointments. These appointments are critical to our long-term efforts to strengthen our research and teaching capacity, and ensure that our students have access to this vital body of knowledge. In order to accelerate our progress, however, the FAS is also establishing the Harvard College Visiting Professorship in Ethnicity, Indigeneity, and Migration to recruit leading scholars of race and ethnicity to spend a year at Harvard College actively engaged in teaching our undergraduates. Beginning in 2021-2022, the FAS will appoint up to two new visiting scholars each year, based on recommendations from academic departments. Finally, to seed new research directions and develop the next generation of scholars, we will also invest in the academic pipeline. The Inequality in America postdoctoral fellowship program, which currently recruits two new fellows each year, will be expanded in the coming year to recruit two additional early career scholars whose work focuses specifically on issues of racial and ethnic inequality.

Foster a more inclusive visual culture 

The FAS has launched the Task Force on Visual Culture and Signage. Led by the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Robin Kelsey, this task force will convene a group of faculty, staff, and students from across the FAS to conduct a comprehensive study of our visual culture and articulate principles and informed guidelines for evolving the visual culture and imagery of the FAS. This work will provide a stronger foundation for the creative and meaningful action already happening at the local level, as well as catalyze new, more systematic visual change across the whole of the FAS.

Build our capacity to pursue inclusive excellence

Dean Gay has appointed Sheree Ohen the inaugural Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for the FAS. Her work will be dedicated to the creation and implementation of an FAS-wide strategic vision for inclusive excellence that enables all members of our community to be seen, heard, and to flourish. She will report directly to Dean Gay, and will work closely with the FAS senior leadership team to develop concrete goals and identify personal, departmental, divisional, and school-level actions for building an effective and active culture of anti-racism in the FAS.

Expand leadership opportunities for staff of color

The FAS will launch a study of the hiring, professional development, and promotion practices that may contribute to the low representation of minority staff in managerial and executive roles carrying significant decision-making responsibility and authority. Led by Sheree Ohen, Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and working closely with Leslie Kirwan, Dean for Administration and Finance, Nina Zipser, Dean for Faculty Affairs, and Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College, the study will identify concrete steps we can take to increase racial diversity of senior staff and recommend near-and long-term hiring goals for the FAS.