As the inaugural Associate Dean for Inclusion at the School of Social Policy & Practice (as of July 1, 2020), I am excited to embrace this new role at SP2. As a school, SP2 is committed to the principles of anti-racism, anti-oppression, intersectionality, inclusion, diversity, and social justice in our educational programs, interactions with colleagues, students, and external partners, and school culture.
Although SP2 has long been committed to social justice, a Task Force on Race and Social Justice was formed in March 2019 to re-examine the School’s efforts and re-commit to this work. The Task Force devoted nearly a year in monthly intense and meaningful discussions with SP2’s constituents, identifying both SP2’s strengths and challenges in these areas. As a result, the Task Force put forth recommendations in the following five areas:
- SP2’s Structure and Leadership
- School Climate
- Admissions and Financial Aid
Subsequently, an Advisory Committee on Race and Social Justice formed to support SP2 in prioritizing and implementing goals in each of these areas. In Fall 2020, the Advisory Committee will formally recommend to the standing faculty that the committee be expanded into a Standing Committee on Race and Social Justice to include faculty, staff, and students from each of the five degree programs. The committee will provide the infrastructure to develop and steer the plan for implementing SP2’s inclusion goals, which will involve articulating the objectives for each of the Task Force’s recommendations. The scope of each recommendation will be defined, followed by identifying the key stakeholders, required tasks, timelines, needed supports and resources, project leaders, anticipated outcomes, and strategies for measuring outcomes.
SP2 recognizes that organizational transformation requires change on the individual personal level. Our community holds each other and ourselves accountable to not only accomplish a list of objectives but to also practice regular deep-level self-examination and reflection of the forces that maintain and perpetuate structural racism and oppression. To facilitate cross-program dialog and build a sense of community, the School implemented a One Book common read in 2019. The “One Book, One SP2” program hosts School-wide events focusing on themes from the One Book throughout each academic year.
Given the global outcry for racial justice, we also aim to target one of the root causes of oppression, white supremacy, as essential to promoting social justice as a School. Beginning in 2020, the SP2 community is also asked to read Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad alongside the One Book.
SP2 has made and will continue to make curricular changes that promote anti-racism, anti-oppression, intersectionality, inclusion, diversity, and social justice. I look forward to developing and implementing additional inclusion and social justice initiatives and with a particular emphasis on engagement, collaboration, and participation from the broader SP2 community.