LU Insider

Update on Summer 2021 Antiracism Fellowships

The new Antiracism Fellowship program provided faculty and staff the opportunity to incorporate an antiracist approach in a pre-existing course or program. The 10 fellows received a stipend to support summer planning for their projects thanks to generous funding from the newly established Inclusive Excellence Fund: Creating a more Just, Equitable, and Diverse Lawrence created by an anonymous alumni couple. The purpose of the Fund is to support activities and initiatives that improve the equity of experience for students, faculty, and staff of underserved and underrepresented identities. Fellows attended a workshop conducted by Perception Institute in June to help them conceptualize the work. During the spring 2022 term, the fellows will participate in an Antiracism Symposium to share the results of their project. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is providing assistance throughout implementation. 

The following brief summaries give you a sense of the projects underway.

  1. In collaboration with a team of university staff, faculty, and student partners, build and execute a career conference uncovering the “hidden curriculum” of access to student career development resources at Lawrence. This conference will provide historically marginalized students with knowledge of and access to resources, skills and confidence needed to engage in career development and networking early in their college careers. (Amanda Netzel, Asst. Director, Career Center) 
  2. Geology courses aim to explore some of the ways that the geosciences explore topics of environmental justice. We will be focusing on issues such as legacy contaminants, primarily lead, in urban soils, air pollution associated with industrial facilities, various threats to water quality, and some of the human impacts of climate change. Sadly, the brunt of these environmental degradations is borne disproportionately by people of color. In addition to considering how training in geo and environmental sciences can help us to better understand and mitigate these issues, we will also be considering the historical and contemporary decision-making that permits and perpetuates such environmental racism. (Andrew Knudsen, Professor of Geosciences)
  3. This proposal supported a summer reading workshop for library staff to learn and engage with antiracist and critical race theory texts, with the goal being to implement antiracist and social justice practices at public service points (interlibrary loan, circulation, reference, and classroom instruction) as well as in back-end processes and “invisible” departments (cataloging, electronic resources, archive). Staff met weekly to discuss portions of the texts and learn/discuss how to apply this material to our everyday work. We aim to uncover biases in all aspects of the library’s work for the public, and make change that will benefit the marginalized within our student, staff, and faculty body.  (Andrew McSorley, Reference and Digital Liberal Arts Librarian)
  4. Develop a Studio Art course that focuses specifically on artwork by LGBTQ People of Color, incorporating elements with the focus of diversity in the past while also addresses specific contemporary populations. This approach will support deeper and more meaningful conversations while producing compelling, poignant, and timely imagery/artwork. (Ben Rinehart, Professor of Art)
  5. The University staff advisor for The Lawrentian is crafting an onboarding curriculum and set of resources to ensure all student staff members adhere to best practices as they move toward systemic change in how they create and disseminate content.  (Emily Bowles, Administrative Assistant, Development Office) 
  6. With racism increasingly being recognized as a public health hazards and the COVID-19 pandemic laying bare race-based disparities in our healthcare system, this project will incorporate antiracist principles in the LU Career Center’s pre-health advising programming. The rationale for pursuing this project is to 1) better prepare all pre-health Lawrentians with the necessary cultural humility and awareness of racial equity issues to be an effective future healthcare provider for all patients and 2) to provide more intentional support at Lawrence to BIPOC students who have been historically underrepresented and excluded in the field of medicine. (Jacklyn Fischer, Asst. Director, Career Center)
  7. Math 140 has historically been a gateway course into multiple math and science majors at Lawrence; students must complete the course in order to undertake any of these majors. Unfortunately, Math 140 has also historically had quite a high D/F/W rate (percentage of students who earn a D or F, or withdrew from the course), with a disproportionate representation of students of color. In Fall 2018, the Math/CS/Stats department implemented the ALEKS placement exam, and began teaching what would eventually become Math 103, a course designed to prepare students for Math 140. This has led to some success in reducing the D/F/W rates in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic seems to have led to an uptick in the D/F/W rate in Winter 2021, back up at 30%, and again, disproportionately students of color. This fellowship projects aims to unpack the reasons for this continuing disparity and identify options and implement changes to the way courses are taught/graded to address them. (Julie Rana, Assistant Professor of Mathematics)
  8. The course “Acting I” frequently attracts a large population of students of color, domestic and international. The class requires students to engage in a great deal of personal reflection as a means to find “entry” into the experiences of the characters they are asked to play. The class demands what those in the theatre call “Community Effort,” meaning it’s of paramount importance that students respect others and feel respected by their classmates to allow the free and safe exchange of creative ideas. The aim of the fellowship project is to develop strategies that inspire perspectives and honors the shared humanity that each student brings to the class by engaging with the growing number of specialty theatre companies that are advancing plays and playwrights engaged in stories from artists who are Black, Latinx, Asian-American. This would include the growing number of organizations who are using theatre as a means to address issues of Social Justice. (Jacque Troy, Lecturer in Theatre Arts)
  9. A fully inclusive institution willingly examines its policies, practices, processes, procedures, and structures to uncover mechanisms maintaining white power and privilege. The project aims to create a system for compiling policies, practices, procedures, and structures for bias evaluation, followed by facilitation of organizational learning (assessing and understanding contexts, examining and challenging assumptions, acquiring and practicing new competencies) and organizational change (crossing disciplinary boundaries, re-conceptualizing the future, and re-invigorating institutional steering.)  (Kristin McKinley, Director, Office of Research Administration)
  10. A course redesign proposal for Spanish 330: Introduction to Latin American and Spanish Film, to include thematic materials taking an intersectional approach to the representation of marginalized and subaltern racial, sexual, socio-economic, gender, and ethnic identities. (Rosa Tapia, Professor of Spanish).