Over the past year, the Working Group on Racial Justice of faculty, staff, and students implemented decisions relayed in President DeGioia’s speech of February 4. The working group completed its report in the Spring, and President DeGioia approved its recommendations early in the Summer.
Much of the work of the working group focused on the conceptualization of a new Institute for Racial Justice, a university-level institute that would further the research and outreach initiatives of the University. We identified a set of scholars across the university, active in research and outreach relevant to racial justice, including health equity, D.C.-focused research, performance studies and racial justice, prisoners and justice, and race and migration. We expect that large numbers of them will want to affiliate with the Institute when it is functioning. We have mounted a series of external speakers to visit campus over the coming weeks, to heighten attention to such areas.
The working group conceived of an institute that would be a coalition of research programs with different foci. Key themes would examine racial injustice through research on inequalities (e.g., health, education, income, employment, housing, family, environment) and seek justice through research on social structures (e.g., legal, governmental, education systems, medicine, policy, voting, etc.). Broadly, these are:
- Disparities, Inequality and Difference. What are the sources and dimensions of enduring racial disparities in areas such as health, education, income, housing and employment? How should we understand the impact of family structures and environmental conditions on social and political outcomes? What are the long-term trends and future projections that define racial inequality in the United States?
- Structures and Solutions. What legal or political structures perpetuate injustice along racial lines? What proven solutions seem to work in areas such as education and medicine to alleviate the power of race as a determinant to community trajectories? How might areas such as banking and voting regulations be transformed to enable full participation in markets and elections?
- Diasporas, Migrations, Expressions. To what degree is the U.S. experience of race a national, a continental, or even a global phenomenon? How do cognate ways of perceiving and structuring the world, such as ethnicity and gender, intersect with the past and present? Under what conditions do other social groups and structures around the world, such as religion, become “racialized?” How can we understand and analyze the monumental cultural products of the African American experience and their connections to the struggle for justice?
In addition, the group proposed a set of joint appointments of scholars whose work would propel forward scholarship, collectively making Georgetown one of the world’s premier locations for studies and outreach furthering racial justice. These will likely be multi-year searches targeting senior faculty members with well-regarded scholarly work on racial justice and experience in building research teams. Since the institute will be a university-level entity, we seek scholars who might have affiliations with one of more of the campuses. We will launch searches designed to yield four new faculty members with 50% appointments as research professors in the institute and 50% as tenured professors in other academic units.
Over the next few days, an email from the Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) will seek proposals from academic units (e.g., schools, departments, interdisciplinary degree programs) for new tenured faculty appointments furthering our work on the institute. These will be vetted by a faculty advisory committee representing all three campuses. The committee’s recommendations for searches will be submitted to the EVPs and the searches then launched.
Our goal is bringing to Georgetown the best scholars in the world working in the areas above. Simultaneously we will build out structures and seek external financial support for the institute. I personally look forward to the submission of proposals for new faculty that will help us build the institute.