A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf
At Harvard Kennedy School, fostering a diverse and inclusive community where everyone feels they belong is a matter of basic fairness consistent with our core values as an institution. It is also essential to our mission of improving public policy and leadership—because recruiting and empowering the best people makes us better at what we do, because we learn more from people with different perspectives, and because we serve diverse societies and work in diverse groups.
Discrimination, exclusion, and harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or other characteristics have no place at the Kennedy School. But achieving true excellence requires us to do much more than just avoid and condemn those unacceptable behaviors—it requires us to affirmatively build a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community.
In particular, we need to do more to overcome anti-Black racism and other systemic injustices, here at the Kennedy School and in the world. One of our core values at the Kennedy School is belief in the worth of each person regardless of their race and other characteristics. To hold true to that moral imperative—and for the sake of everyone at the School—we need to make our work and learning together as fair as possible. That means overcoming racism here. We also need to do teaching, research, and outreach to help reduce racism in the world, and many of the faculty members we have recruited in the past few years will strengthen our capacity in this regard.
The importance and urgency of this work are made clear every day, including through the terrible recent shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin; Portland, Oregon; and other places. As more people emphasize their commitment to achieving racial justice in our economic, political, and social systems, we hope we have come to a long-overdue time of change.
The Kennedy School can, and should, help to drive that change. Our students, staff, and faculty have taken many steps to advance inclusion and anti-racism, and many more need to be taken. The list below our signatures summarizes some of the steps that have been taken in recent years or are being taken now. These actions—which draw on the recommendations of the Kennedy School’s and University’s task force reports, and on much work by students, staff, faculty, and alumni—include many different aspects of our work at the Kennedy School. Further information on these topics can always be found at the Knet DIB portal.
Although this work is far from done, let us highlight just a few important items from the list below: We will continue working this year to develop a more robust approach for tracking and responding to incidents of bias or harassment based on race. We have appointed roughly a dozen faculty members over the past three years whose teaching, research, and outreach address race and public policy, and those faculty members will be developing courses, conducting research, and engaging with public leaders. We have added a required course for MPP students on racism and public policy and an Orientation Week session on anti-racism and allyship. The Kennedy School’s research centers and programs are conducting numerous seminars, discussions, and events on racism and other forms of injustice. We are refining our recruiting and admissions processes to identify talented applicants with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and to facilitate greater diversity of our student body. And we are learning how to foster meaningful dialogue in each working unit of the Kennedy School as senior managers lead and encourage conversations about race, social justice, and the climate of the School; we intend to build this muscle going forward.
Creating a better Kennedy School and battling racism are the collective responsibilities of all of us in this community. The signers of this message, as key leaders of the School, have a particular obligation to push these crucial and urgent efforts forward. We are committed to continuing to do so, and we look forward to collaborating with you.
Doug Elmendorf, Dean
Robbin Chapman, Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Iris Bohnet, Academic Dean
Suzanne Cooper, Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum
Debbie Isaacson, Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs and Student Affairs
Janney Wilson, Executive Dean
Beth Banks, Associate Dean for Human Resources
Sarah Wald, Senior Policy Adviser and Chief of Staff to the Dean
Recent and Ongoing Efforts to Advance Inclusion and Anti-Racism at Harvard Kennedy School
School Structure and Information
- Following the recommendation of HKS’s 2016 Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, creating the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (ODIB) and creating the position of Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging to oversee ODIB and serve as a member of the Dean’s senior leadership team.
- Appointing Dr. Robbin Chapman as Associate Dean for DIB following a search process involving students, staff, and faculty, and building an ODIB team with the addition of Kimberly Harris as Assistant Director and Harrison Nekoroski as Program Coordinator.
- Developing and distributing each October a report to the HKS community with data on the race, gender, and national origin of students, faculty, and staff.
- Creating and maintaining a Knet portal on diversity, inclusion, and belonging to consolidate information and resources.
- Curating materials on diversity and racism at HKS’s Library and Knowledge Services and anti-racist resources organized for various constituencies in our community.
- Creating and disseminating new information and resources on Title IX and sexual harassment on Knet, and arranging bystander training regarding sexual harassment.
- Supporting the Women and Public Policy Program, HKS’s research center that advances gender equity through its research and outreach.
- Regularly convening a Diversity Committee comprising students, staff, and faculty.
- Recognizing heritage months for underrepresented groups.
- Distributing a monthly newsletter from ODIB.
- Creating a new section of the public website devoted to racism and public policy.
- Developing a new approach for tracking and responding to incidents of bias or harassment based on race.
Faculty, Curriculum, and Pedagogy
- Implementing new procedures for faculty search and review committees that use the latest research evidence to increase inclusiveness and minimize bias, and focusing on cluster hiring.
- Appointing roughly a dozen faculty members over the past three years whose teaching, research, and outreach address race and public policy, and appointing other faculty members whose work addresses other aspects of diversity and equity.
- Creating a required course for first-year MPP students on race and public policy, and offering other new courses that address injustice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and religion.
- Developing new teaching cases on race, gender, and social justice.
- Funding development and implementation of “Teachly,” a software tool to help faculty engage with students more inclusively at HKS and now in other schools.
- Providing training and support to faculty for inclusive teaching practices.
- Conducting numerous seminars, discussions, and events on racism and other forms of injustice through HKS research centers and programs, including the Racial Justice program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; the Summer Teach-In arranged by the Center for Public Leadership, Institute of Politics, and Women and Public Policy Program; the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at CPL; and the Initiative for Institutional Anti-Racism and Accountability at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy.
Student Admissions and Support
- Expanding and revising recruiting practices, with a particular emphasis on reaching underrepresented applicants more effectively.
- Improving the process for reviewing applications by streamlining admissions committees and providing comprehensive training to committee members on bias and holistic review of files.
- Partnering with student groups to conduct personal outreach to admitted applicants in order to improve student yield.
- Creating an Orientation Week session on anti-racism and allyship.
- Working with Community Change, Inc., to develop anti-racism training workshops.
- Committing substantial resources to sustain a scholarship program for students serving underrepresented African-American communities.
- Supporting student affinity groups, conferences, and journals focused on perspectives of underrepresented groups.
- Holding town hall meetings to hear students’ perspectives.
- Significantly increasing the number of participants and academic excellence of those admitted to our Public Policy Leadership Conference, a pipeline for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds.
- Creating an award for the best student research paper related to race, given in honor of Emeritus Professor William Julius Wilson, and continuing an award for the best student research paper related to gender, given in honor of Emerita Professor Jane Mansbridge.
- Providing training in implicit bias, micro-messaging, bystander intervention, and cross-cultural communication, including during orientation of new staff members.
- Increasing significantly the outreach to HBCUs and affinity organizations, and pursuing other approaches, to identify talented applicants with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and to facilitate greater diversity of our staff.
- Fostering meaningful dialogue in each working unit of HKS by having senior managers lead and encourage conversations about race, social justice, and the climate here.
- Making some seminars on relevant topics accessible to staff, including the weekly research seminar on gender organized by the Women and Public Policy Program.
- Shifting artwork and acquiring new artwork (including portraits of leaders with diverse backgrounds) to make common spaces more welcoming and inclusive.
- Creating a Community Bulletin Board where all members of HKS can share messages and solicit new connections.
- During our campus transformation, making significant improvements in accessibility and creating an additional lactation room and a room for religious observance, meditation practice, and reflection.