Here is a chance to explore a few current Harvard Kennedy School initiatives to make our campus more welcoming, to promote faculty insights on systemic inequities, and to enhance diversity and inclusion. Learn more about activities related to Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism efforts at HKS.

Inclusive Art at HKS

In 2018 Dean Doug Elmendorf established the HKS Artwork Committee to provide guidance on how to create more welcoming, engaging, and vibrant common spaces on campus. The Artwork Committee was asked to consider how paintings, photographs, memorabilia, and graphics might best reflect the Kennedy School’s mission, values, and community. The faculty, students, staff, and external advisors who made up the committee recommended that the campus artwork reflect four themes:

  • HKS Values
  • HKS Community Life
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
  • Wellbeing and Sustainability

Following the guidance of the committee, the dean, and art consultants Boston Art, the Kennedy School campus now features one large mural and a collection of artwork in a variety of media. The HKS community was invited to watch local artist Silvia López Chavez as she painted the mural next to the dining area—which was appropriate since one theme of Chavez’s work is the human need to connect. Other artworks for the project include an acrylic and collage seascape by Ekua Holmes; work by Sarah Sense, who combines weaving and photography to connect with her Chitimacha and Choctaw ancestry and explore themes of sustainability and environmentalism; Lizz Aston, whose laser-cut mirror installation gives viewers a chance to reflect—literally and figuratively; vignettes by Roberto Jamora, who gives voice to the stories of immigrants through his art; and many more.

different artworks in a collage
Art at HKS select images, left to right: Lizz Aston, Form and Counter-form, 2019; Zaria Forman, Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland, 2017; Chris Wood, Spyra, 2019; Favianna Rodriguez, Voice, 2018–2019; Lynn Heitler, One, Two, Three, 2020.


HKS PolicyCast “Systems Failure” mini-series

The HKS PolicyCast podcast began its fall 2021 season with a miniseries of episodes on inequality called “Systems Failure.” These conversations focus on how the systems that we live within—economic, political, technological—can exacerbate inequality, even as they play an ever-greater role in determining how we live our lives.

“Systems Failure” explores the broader impacts of systemic inequalities and discusses strategies to change systems to make them fairer. The series began with Latanya Sweeney, the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology, who recently launched the new Public Interest Tech Lab based at the Shorenstein Center. Sweeney is a pioneer in the fields of algorithmic fairness and data privacy and the former chief technology officer for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and her work has been cited in key U.S. privacy regulations, including the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In the podcast episode, Sweeney tells host Ralph Ranalli that her experiences being the only woman of color in white male-dominated classrooms and labs may have contributed to her knack for spotting bias, privacy gaps, and other flaws in data and technology systems.

The second guest in the “Systems Failure” miniseries is economist and Aetna Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy Jason Furman, who recently testified before Congress that addressing rising inequality will be the most important challenge for the U.S. economy in the years ahead.

PolicyCast is the official podcast of Harvard Kennedy School, with a mission to provide an in-depth view into the insights and groundbreaking research of the Harvard Kennedy School faculty on a broad spectrum of important issues.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Associates Program

​The Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) Associates Program was sparked by student interest and perspectives and was launched last spring to address the needs of the Kennedy School community. The program, which selects and places student workers in several offices at HKS, is sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (ODIB).

The DIB associates work within Enrollment Services, ODIB, and SLATE (Strengthening Learning and Teaching Excellence) to advance diversity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism throughout the School.

Curriculum DIB Associate Role

The curriculum DIB associates are working with SLATE to:

  • develop resources for faculty to assess and improve their course materials (e.g., syllabi) and learning environment,
  • assist faculty, under the guidance of SLATE, by providing research support for improvements to course materials, and
  • support course assistants, under the guidance of SLATE, by conducing diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism trainings.

Enrollment Services DIB Associate Role

The enrollment services DIB associates are working with the assistant dean for enrollment services to implement practices to attract and enroll a diverse student body at HKS. Their responsibilities include:

  • assisting with the planning and execution of a variety of recruitment and yield activities for prospective applicants from underrepresented backgrounds,
  • providing recommendations on aspects of the admissions and financial aid processes that could help increase the diversity of applicants and enrolled students, and
  • contributing to multimedia, digital, and social media content. 

ODIB Associate Role

The DIB associates are working within the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging to support a more inclusive, anti-racist climate at HKS. The goals of these positions are to build capacity for DIB programs and events, promote cross-cultural understanding and engagement, and support DIB communications.

DIB associates’ responsibilities include:

  • conducting outreach to various student groups and caucuses to promote inter-community dialogues and engagement,
  • contributing to the design and facilitation of diversity programming, and
  • assisting with designing DIB content for dissemination.

Banner image: Silvia López Chavez hand-painted mural, 2019. Photo by Mackey Howe/BostonArt

Also see the report: 2021 Data on Certain Aspects of Diversity