In October 2016, the Ford School released a five-year strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion that builds on the school’s long-standing strength and commitment in this area. Developed through broad community and student involvement, the plan addressed four central goals:
Diversifying who we are
Diversifying what and how we teach
Promoting an equitable and inclusive climate
Diversifying our research and policy engagement
Recognizing there is still much work to do, we highlight some of the significant strides made in the first five years of the DEI plan. Review details by downloading DEI strategic plan results 2016-2020. Additional outcomes may be viewed in the annual plans below.
A new infrastructure to support DEI and integrate it throughout all functions and services of the school.
We created a new infrastructure to support the ongoing development, evaluation, accountability, and transparency of the Ford School’s DEI efforts. It includes:
A DEI officer, hired in 2017, who sits on the senior leadership team, and who serves as both a member of the faculty and as the staff lead for DEI initiatives.
The DEI coalition, composed of faculty, staff, and students. The coalition shares ideas, feedback, and concerns, and increases communication between students, faculty, and staff.
The DEI leadership team, which consists of faculty co-leads, the director of Student and Academic Services, and the DEI officer.
Monthly DEI Updates newsletter to increase awareness and transparency of DEI-related programs and resources and regularly update the community of our strategic plan process. With input from student coalition representatives, this includes a recap of meeting highlights.
“We know changing organizational culture takes intentional thinking and action involving all members of a community. And we know that lasting change and progress comes from changing organizational policies and practices.”
Former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and former DEI faculty co-lead (2015-2021)
Through intentional review and development of new practices, we seek to attract students, faculty, and staff with diverse backgrounds to the Ford School to learn, research, and engage in policy. Our approach includes pipeline programs from high school to college to graduate school, student support, postdoctoral fellowships, and faculty hiring.
We developed and institutionalized new processes for all faculty searches based on best practices in open, inclusive searches.
We hired a diverse pool of faculty in terms of their research agendas, disciplinary training, and background that diversify and expand our curriculum. We have also welcomed visiting policymakers who expand our offerings even further.
We have changed our faculty hiring and annual reporting policies in ways that make it an expectation that faculty engage and contribute to the school achieving its DEI goals through their research, teaching, and service.
We have instituted new student recruitment plans for our graduate and undergraduate programs to attract students from diverse backgrounds.
We launched a new BA minor to bring students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds into the Ford School community.
We’ve added important new perspectives to the Ford School Committee, our school’s external advisory committee, with new additions of Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD ‘97), Dudley Benoit (MPP ‘95), Broderick Johnson (JD ‘83), and Annie Maxwell (MPP ‘02).
Student support continues to be a priority for our recruitment and retention efforts. We offer numerous fellowship and financial support packages. We currently provide three broad kinds of support to encourage the academic and professional success of our students: Student Academic Services (SAS), including programs that partner with faculty; Graduate Career Services (GCS); and student organizations.
Given the Ford School’s mission to "prepare diverse leaders grounded in service," our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion must come through in our classrooms. We continue to strengthen and expand our course offerings, workshops, and speaker events, and other student opportunities related to DEI.
We updated our MPP and BA curriculums to have a greater focus on racial justice, social inequality, structural racism, and other DEI-related content.
We expanded support and resources for Ford School student organizations whose programming advances DEI efforts.
We are consistently offering DEI-related training for faculty to share resources and provide tools to foster inclusive classrooms and anti-racist pedagogy. Over the past two years, more than half of our monthly faculty meetings have devoted time to learning and planning related to critical race theory, inclusive classrooms, eliminating bias from course syllabi, anti-racism curriculum changes, and more. Upcoming training will be offered to students and staff.
Non-personnel operating costs
students of color (U.S.)
Goal 3: Promoting an equitable and inclusive climate
We strive to offer formal and informal opportunities that build community and foster openness to multiple perspectives and backgrounds outside the classroom and through interactions with one another. We acknowledge the particular mental health issues facing many students in what has been an excruciatingly difficult time for our country.
We created Café Fordies, an initiative to create space for students to interact with fellow Ford students that they might not normally get to know.
We established avenues for students to confidentially report issues of concern, including discrimination and unlawful bias through an anonymous feedback form that is sent to Ford School leadership.
We placed special emphasis on our international students, and we provided customized support to help them thrive.
We encouraged and supported our faculty and graduate student instructors (GSIs) to share resources and utlize tools to foster inclusive classrooms and anti-racist pedagogy.
We regularly facilitated DEI-related discussions in faculty meetings and GSI check-ins, with topics such as Critical Race Theory, Inclusive and Policy-Relevant Statistical Methods, and Anti-racist teaching.
We partnered with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to hire an embedded clinical social worker (joint with the School of Education) to provide additional 1:1 counseling and educational programming tailored for Ford School students.
We welcomed student perspectives in decision-making. We created a DEI Coalition to bring students, staff, and faculty together in support of DEI across the school. Students formed a new Anti-prejudice Taskforce to amplify the actions and voices of students working towards anti-prejudice at the Ford School. We also created a new Student Leadership Team in 2020 to advise and directly assist the administration in pandemic-related shifts and changes in regard to Ford School academics.
Goal 4: Diversifying ‘our research and policy engagement’
As public policy researchers, faculty at the Ford School identify important social and public policy problems using rigorous methods, and develop and analyze solutions of public concern—bringing to light important social, health, and social justice concerns, examining the implications of public policies, and identifying inequities that demand policy solutions. Our faculty demonstrate a strong commitment to research questions related to DEI, particularly with regard to issues of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nationality, and gender. This includes studies of the effects of poverty and inequality on educational performance, the effects of immigration policy on outcomes for immigrants, and the ways in which those with limited resources engage in innovation. We make a concerted effort to lift up their findings and connect them with the public and policymakers.
Our faculty continue to lead on issues related to social and racial justice. They think, speak out, and teach about structural inequality–about differential outcomes and experiences for marginalized populations in education, policing, health, economics, finance, and other key systems.
In September 2020 we launched a new school website. We call attention to our community’s work through new impact areas on topics such as racial justice, Detroit, COVID-19, and diplomacy.
Research centers run by Ford School faculty Earl Lewis (Center for Social Solutions) and Luke Shaefer (Poverty Solutions) announced an inaugural faculty grants competition, with additional support from the Ford School and other units on campus, for action-based research aimed at confronting and combating systemic racism in society.
We intentionally bring in leading experts and policy leaders for public and community events that highlight conversations across differences and how they’ve navigated challenges and choices in their careers. Students play a key role in identifying specific speakers they would like to see.
As a result of our commitment and strength in social policy and research on anti-poverty policy, Hal and Carol Kohn provided the Ford School with a generous gift to establish three new professorships to advance equity and inclusion: the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy; the Karl and Martha Kohn Professorship of Social Policy; and the Arlene Susan Kohn Professorship of Social Policy.