Below, we document important directions and priorities, as well as steps the College and its departments, are taking to act on our values. In each case, we seek to listen to various constituencies, respond appropriately, and to be transparent and inclusive in our decision-making.
The Department of Anthropology has added two new courses to the Fall 2020 offerings. Though many anthropology courses address issues of structural racism, these courses allow a deeper dive and sustained exploration. Both courses will be offered online.
Anth 591AR - Antiracism: Theory and Practice | Amanda Walker Johnson
This new course responds to recent and urgent calls for action against racism. As Ella Baker, a key organizer in the Black Freedom Struggle of the 60s, said, “in order to see where we are going, we not only must remember where we have been, but we must understand where we have been.”
In the spirit of Baker, this course focuses on three aspects for impactful antiracist praxis: First, we will increase our “understanding,” by analyzing and comparing theories of antiracism—tracing how the term antiracism itself emerged and became commonly recognized. For this, we will read and reflect on scholarship in the US and beyond, such as those by Leith Mullings, Kimberlé Crenshaw, George Dei, and Yin Paradies. Second, we will “remember” and glean lessons from past struggles, by examining historical and ethnographic studies of antiracist movements, such as those by Sara Ahmed, Steven Gregory, George Lipsitz, and Julia Sudbury. Third, we will “see where we are going” and synthesize works by scholars such as Ibram Kendi, Mica Pollock, Eve Tuck, Angela Valenzuela, and Kevin Yamamoto to collectively, as a class, develop decolonizing, antiracist strategies that we can put into practice now—from everyday actions to long-term struggles against racism.
This course is open to undergraduates and graduate students from any discipline, with weekly reading, writing, visual components, and discussions, as well as semester-long research projects for students to explore their interests.
ANTHRO 297W - Du Bois in Our Time | Whitney Battle-Baptiste
The course demonstrates how the broad and varied writings of W.E.B. Du Bois have helped inform and shape contemporary movements. On-the-ground activists, people marching in the streets, sit-ins, occupations, have all shaped movements for social change, but so too have scholars like Du Bois.
Starting with Du Bois's 1935 text, Black Reconstruction, this course will trace the foundations of how racial inequality is tied to economic and social inequities. We will explore how workers have alienated and disenfranchised, and degradation, the stigmatization of black men as criminals, and have instances of anti-black racism have supported a capitalist agenda that relies on and perpetuates, social inequalities.
We apply the writings of Du Bois to the protest movements of our own time and trace to what extent Du Bois' theories have been borne out in the years since his death in 1963. We will engage with the ongoing discussion about civil rights in America and how fundamental disagreements about the approach to race, shape political and social culture. Using the archive in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at UMass, we will see Du Bois up close and gain a greater insight into his life, as well as his writings. Through exploring the archives, students will have the chance to make research discoveries of their own that may help influence the direction of their academic study far beyond the life of this course
The Journalism Department feels a special responsibility to represent the diversity of Massachusetts because many of our majors amplify their voices using campus media as undergraduates and assume influential media roles after graduation.
To that end, the department is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in various concrete ways. In the classroom, our curriculum includes classes in Social Justice Journalism, Covering Race, Community Journalism (which partners with high school students in Springfield, Mass., The African American Freedom Struggle, and the Press and Journalism in Jail. Many other courses address these issues as well.
In 2017, UMass Journalism started sponsoring the Rebirth Project, a student media outlet designed to feature the voices of underrepresented students.
In 2018, the Journalism Department offered a free weeklong Summer Journalism Institute for underrepresented and first-generation high school students from around the state. Modeled on a successful program from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, we plan to continue this program after the pandemic abates as a way to foster a more diverse community over time.
We work to bring diverse voices into the department as guest speakers. Over the past five years, our guests have included Define American founder Jose Antonio Vargas, Women Photograph founder Daniela Zalcman, Marshall Project Managing Editor Gabriel Dance, author Mona Eltahawy, sports journalist Kate Fagan, and radio journalist Chenjerai Kumanyika.
The department of landscape architecture and regional planning is taking a proactive approach to making our community a more supportive and inclusive community. Under the direction of the department’s Diversity Committee and Prof. Darrel Ramsey-Musolf, we will undertake a self-evaluation of our programs, courses, and events to ensure that we are promoting a more equitable future. The professions of landscape architecture and regional planning are deeply embedded in shaping the physical, the social, and economic landscape of our cities, and diversity and inclusion are key aspects of professional education. The self-evaluation will be a year-long process that will begin in fall 2020 with a series of town meetings and convening a committee of students, staff, faculty, and alumni to conduct the self-evaluation. The spring 2021 semester will include additional feedback on the self-evaluation and developing a report and implementation plan.
In addition to this year-long self-evaluation process, the Department will host a series of speakers as part of our Zube lecture series that will be focusing on resilience, climate change, and diversity issues. These include talks by our new assistant professor Samantha Solano on Aug. 27th entitled, Landscapes Unrepresented.
On Sept. 24, professor Kofi Boone from North Carolina State University will give a talk entitled, Notes on Resilience. Prof. Boone will be the Department’s BRiDGE Scholar and will give two additional seminars on pathways for underrepresented groups in the profession of landscape architecture. The BRiDGE Scholar program through the UMass School of Earth and Sustainability brings early-career scientists from underrepresented backgrounds to campus to discuss their work.
With regards to courses, we have a new undergraduate course being taught by Prof. Darrel Ramsey Musolf, SUSTCOMM 397R Special Topics- Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Urban Environments that will focus on diversity and inclusion issues (see attached flier). Some other existing courses that include this topic are:
- SUSTCOMM 110 Transforming Your World: Introduction to Community Engagement taught by Prof. Emeritus Ellen Pader
- REGIONPL 597P Special Topics- Housing Policy in the U.S. taught by Prof. Darrel Ramsey Musolf
- REGIONPL 630 The Theory and Practice of Public Participation taught by Prof. Elisabeth Hamin Infield
The Legal Studies Program will be offering a course (likely in the 2021-22 academic year) on “Bias in the American Legal System.”
In addition, the program is funding internships to enable students who might not otherwise have the chance to do internships to take part in high-impact internships.
During the fall 2020 semester, we accomplished the following:
- Faculty developed a statement on race, diversity, and social justice. The statement will have a prominent place on our website and will be easily accessible from the department home page.
- The department is collecting and displaying faculty research relating to race, diversity, and social justice on its website.
- The department is prominently displaying information about faculty courses in the Political Science and Legal Studies undergraduate programs relating to race, diversity, and social justice on the department website.
- The department has joined the American Political Science Association's Minority Student Recruitment Program to further enhance our efforts to recruit and retain a diverse graduate student body.
- The department has developed a new communications system to more fairly and equitably collect and broadcast information about the achievements of members of our department community. That process is currently in place and will be continuing in the coming months and years.
- The department has collected comprehensive information about university fellowships and awards for faculty and graduate students and, in a collaboration between the chair, DPC, and GSC, will be developing processes to ensure equity and diversity in nominations and advocacy of our faculty/students for these awards.
Efforts to improve Diversity and Inclusion
The Department of Resource Economics recognizes that we can and must do better to improve Diversity and Inclusion in the Economics Profession. The recent murders of Geroge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and so many other black people at the hands of police demands that those in power not be silent on issues of diversity and inclusion. To that end, the Department of Resource Economics will undertake the following steps to become more diverse and inclusive. We must acknowledge the contributions of our current graduate students in the development of this plan.
- We will appoint a Departmental committee to research and make recommendations as to how to actively and continually educate ourselves and address these issues of racial justice and inclusion.
- We will increase our mentorship of underrepresented students in our classes. The Resource Economics Graduate Council and the Undergraduate Advising Team will initiate a series of mentorship events for UMass undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate degrees in economics.
- We will increase our mentorship or our underrepresented graduate students and faculty.
- We will actively cite Black academics in our research, and make efforts to ensure that our Seminar Series is as diverse and inclusive as possible.
- We will advertise our new Undergraduate Major in Managerial Economics broadly with the goal of increasing our enrollments of Black, Indigenous, Latino, Women, as well as First-Generation students.
Resources for Economists
There are many recent resources available to enhance the Diversity and Inclusion of our Field. These include but are not limited to:
- The American Economic Association’s Resources
- Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP)
- Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP)
- Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Profession
- AEA’s Best Practices for Economists Building a More Diverse, Inclusive, and Productive Profession.
- This New York Times article summarizing the events that led to the call for a prominent economist to resign his editorship of the Journal of Political Economy.
- These two statements by economists William Spriggs and Joelle Gamble on how our neoclassical assumptions can uphold racist systems.
- And, as a case study, these podcasts by Planet Money and The Indicator on Dr. Lisa Cook's 10-year struggle to publish a paper on racism's effect on innovation.
A Statement of Solidarity from the Staff, Faculty, and Director of the School of Public Policy
The last weeks have offered a compressed view of centuries of domination and oppression of African Americans in this country. We have witnessed intolerable exclusion: the rampage of Covid-19 through segregated communities weakened by dysfunctional health care, punitive policing, pollution, unemployment, and inadequate housing; racist threats in public parks; the police murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville; the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by lynchers in Georgia; and militarized and enraged responses to protest.
When we witness violence against and the profound, pervasive social exclusion of African Americans, we stand and declare, “Black Lives Matter.”
The murder of George Floyd by police with the complicity of other officers is shocking for not being shocking. The murderers of George Floyd and others, and officers who have stood by and done nothing while their colleagues committed murder, have violated fundamental human rights, the ethics of public service, and their professional oaths to recognize their badges as symbols of public trust. We demand justice and change.
We join Chancellor Subbaswamy in his call to stand united and reject racism and bigotry in all its forms. We must do more than wring our hands. As social scientists and scholars of public policy, we have a special capacity to identify and denounce structural injustice. We have a long way to go. We reaffirm our commitment as faculty and staff of the School of Public Policy to dedicate ourselves through our profession to fostering a more just society.
The Staff, Faculty, and Director of the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy
The Department of Sociology is committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and equitable department. We strive to create safe spaces to encourage productive dialogue about intersectional dynamics of race, gender, social class, sexualities, age, and other factors. We ask that all members of the Sociology community -- faculty, staff, and students --be mindful of our responsibility to create an environment that is welcoming to all, and where each person feels accepted, included, seen, heard, valued, and safe. Our undergraduate and graduate curricula are built around the critical exploration of institutional, cultural, and interactional intersectionalities.
The department has an ongoing Equity and Social Justice Committee, consisting of faculty and graduate students. Our complete Value Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be found here: https://www.umass.edu/sociology/diversity_inclusion
The Sociology department has long addressed systemic racism and other problems in policing and the U.S. criminal justice system. We offer a pioneering, critical program for Criminology and Criminal Justice System Certificate. This certificate explores the sociological theories of crime, law, and deviance in order to understand, contextualize, and analyze criminal behavior and the criminal justice system. The classes that satisfy the certificate encourage students to analyze the criminal justice system from a sociological perspective. Our courses are taught by award-winning professors on topics such as Race, Class, and Crime; Race and Policing; Mass Incarceration in the U.S.; Violence By and Against the Police; Gender and Crime; and Hate Crime. Sociology faculty specialize in research on racial profiling, mass incarceration, sexuality, and public policy, child welfare systems, race and the penal system, and more. Students who pursue the Criminology and Criminal JusticeSystem certificate often go on to pursue graduate school or law school or go onto careers such as law, social justice, law enforcement, social welfare, and human rights.
June 5, 2020
The Law and Society Association held its annual (virtual) meeting last week and we held a spontaneous roundtable session about George Floyd and the uprisings titled “Cry the Beloved Country: George Floyd and America’s Continuing Racial Tragedy