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Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Subject: Racial Justice Updates


Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to update you about recent racial justice meetings and to invite you to upcoming events.

The October 23 Department Chairs’ Workshop was organized and led by Dr. Allyson Ferrante, Dr. Emily Field, and Dr. Kevin McGowan. The workshop was designed to provide the chairs with ideas to make their departments more racially inclusive and welcoming. Time was spent distinguishing among the terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality, which are often treated as synonymous in society, and the racial demographics of departmental major(s) were explored to get a first look at how students of color are doing. The workshop was one step in a process to grow diversity and equity within all departments.

Faculty in the Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics participated in a discussion about mentoring students of color in undergraduate research, facilitated by Dr. Jenny Shanahan. Participants read, discussed, and asked questions about Dr. Shanahan’s 2018 article “Mentoring Strategies to Support Students from Underserved Groups in Undergraduate Research.”

This week’s workshop on anti-racist grading of student work is the first of several discussions that will be led by BSU faculty about assignments and assessment practices that aim to dismantle systemic racism in teaching and learning. See below for events happening within the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 28 — 3:30-5:00 PM
Beyond Good Intentions: Taking Steps to End Racism
Sponsored by the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice and the United Way
Event is free to attend
Registration is required. Register early—event is limited to 300 attendees.

Thursday, October 29 — 3:00-4:00 PM
Anti-Racist Grading/Assessment of Student Work
Facilitators: Matt Salomone (Mathematics) and Lee Torda (English)

Assessment of student work is one of the places where systemic, institutionalized racism can most profoundly affect what a student learns in a classroom—both in terms of the content in the class and also, more globally, about what it means to “do well in school" and “be a good student." Sometimes the inherent racism in our practices go largely undetected—even in the classrooms of very well-intentioned, dedicated, faculty.

Matt Salomone and Lee Torda will offer an overview of what antiracist assessment can look like in any classroom. They will cover a range of assessment practices they use in their own classes, including labor-based grading, spec grading, and contract grading and talk about exactly why they see these practices as antiracist as well as how they engage students in authentic learning. Antiracist assessment practices increase the transparency of classroom practices and objectives, contribute to the creation of a trusting community of learners, and, not for nothing, actually make teaching lives easier.

Tuesday, November 10 — 3:00-4:00 PM
Affecting Change within Traditional Models of Mentored Scholarship
Facilitators: Ed Brush, Alyssa Deline, and Saritha Nellutla (Chemical Sciences)

This is Part 1 of the Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics (BCoSM) workshop series on Broadening Access to Undergraduate Research. The goal of these workshops is to provide BCoSM faculty and staff with a space for learning, conversation, and reflection on how we can improve the accessibility and climate of undergraduate research in our College. Together, we will apply a racial equity lens toward understanding how our recruitment and mentorship practices can be transformed to achieve empowering research experiences for all students.

The series will begin with Affecting Change within Traditional Models of Mentored Scholarship, in which we will consider our current recruitment and mentoring practices for long-term undergraduate research. We will reflect on who is most likely to benefit from these models, discuss some best practices for inclusive recruitment and culturally-responsive mentoring, and invite faculty to share ideas and experience on what has worked best within their research groups.

Teams meeting link to be announced.

Thursday, November 12 —12:15-2:30 PM
Paying off Higher Education’s Racial Debt: Infusing Racial Equity Across the Academy – A Keynote Address by Dr. Estela Bensimon
Keynote for the Leading for Change Racial Equity and Justice Institute, funded by the Lumina Foundation

This keynote will focus on ten obstacles to racial equity in higher education and strategies for advancing racial equity and justice on our campuses. Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon is a professor of higher education at USC and the founder and director of the Center for Urban Education, which merged this year with the USC Race and Equity Center. To increase equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, Dr. Bensimon developed the Equity Scorecard, a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture. She has published extensively about racial equity, organizational learning, practitioner inquiry and change. Her most recent book, From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education (2020) is co-authored with Tia Brown McNair and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux.

Registration link »


With gratitude,

Karim Ismaili
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Pam Russell
Associate Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs

Jenny Shanahan
Assistant Provost for High-Impact Practices