Diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities

Current key initiatives (2021-2022 academic year)

The Ford School’s plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion is a living document. Each year, we review our progress on actions and prioritize efforts to address the DEI plan’s four central goals. 

Read this year’s full plan here.

Below, we share some of the initiatives we’re paying particular attention to throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. We’d welcome input and engagement from the Ford School community on any of this work. Please reach out to DEI Co-Leads Stephanie Sanders, Susan Guindi, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, or Catie Hausman to learn more and find out how you might get involved.

Our current work
 

Aerial of U-M central campus including Weill Hall

We’re engaged in a University-wide anti-racism faculty hiring initiative that will provide the opportunity for units across campus to hire more faculty working in this area. The Provost selected the Ford School’s Racial Justice in Technology proposal, submitted in partnership with the School of Information and the Stamps School of Art and Design. The School would begin faculty recruitment immediately. 

We’ve made a concentrated effort to improve our staff hiring processes, to bring that work up to a level of success we’ve achieved in faculty hiring over the past several years. We reviewed staff hiring protocols to identify areas in our current recruitment and hiring processes where we can improve and better leverage outreach to connect with diverse populations. Final recommendations were supported by Ford School senior staff leadership team and will be implemented in the coming months.

The Ford School's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion begins at the very foundation of who we are - our people. As an HR professional, I find it important to review our staff hiring protocols to identify and remove potential biases and ensure we recruit a diverse workforce with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

Carolina Blanc, Human Resources Officer
PhD student getting hooded at commencement

We’re strongly committed to strengthening important pipeline initiatives to increase diversity in public policy.

We launched a new predoctoral program — in partnership with a consortium of leading policy schools — that seeks to expand and broaden research fellowship and faculty mentorship opportunities for public policy master’s degree graduates. Focusing on graduates from a diverse set of experiences with an interest in and aptitude for academic research careers in public policy, the Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy’s goal is to build a more diverse pipeline for doctoral programs and future policy school faculty members. 

We’ve grown the Public Policy and International Affairs program (PPIA), an important pipeline for our master's degrees and for outstanding careers in public policy more broadly. We celebrated its 40th year at the Ford School this past summer. We’ve supported the PPIA fellowship (formerly known as the Sloan or Woodrow Wilson fellowship) since its inception in 1981 and we’ve been one of just a handful of policy schools to host the 7-week educational initiative for undergraduate students every summer. Read more about the PPIA program.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of PPIA, we brought together a panel of distinguished leaders, each of whom attended the University of Michigan Junior Summer Institute and went on to forge careers of tremendous impact and service.

Kaltura Video
DEI_student_lecture

We are reviewing and overhauling our core curriculum so that the important issues of structural racism and institutional discrimination are more explicitly and thoroughly addressed. Based on faculty discussion and votes in May and October 2020, we are working on a landscape analysis of all our courses, and helping faculty plan for changes related to understanding structural racism and the historical role that policy has played both in building inequality and pursuing equality. These efforts require an initial investment of time and coordination among faculty and then ongoing commitment and work, including active oversight and continuous communication and coordination. This includes the further building of a Clearinghouse with a wide variety of faculty resources (i.e., sample course assignments, multimedia material, conceptual models, theories, frameworks, glossary of terminology). Two student DEI RA’s are assisting in this work.

 We are focusing on the mental health and well-being of all our students, staff, and faculty in this stressful, fraught time. Our layered strategy is bolstered by our new embedded counselor who increases access to mental health support for Ford School students. We are in the process of gathering feedback from students on whether services are accessible, especially from students of color, on this and other resources and services providing mental health support. 

Building on that, we aim to organize a set of workshops and small group discussions with a focus on navigating spaces where a person’s identity is not in the majority, building on workshops we’ve done already in career services. The Identities in the Workplace: Career Fair 2021 is a collaboration between Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs, and the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy.

Meet Kristen Carney, the Ford School’s embedded CAPS counselor. Kristen supports students in distress as part of her efforts to promote help-seeking behaviors and emotional well-being practices. Kristen’s areas of interest and training include stress management, anxiety, self-esteem, trauma, and somatic therapy and practices.

Kaltura Video

 

We’re happy to continue our Public Policy and Institutional Discrimination Series. The series is open to U-M students, faculty, and staff and is designed to foster dialogue on important issues of U.S. public policy. All sessions are facilitated by faculty discussants. This programming is an opportunity for students to hear about faculty policy engagement efforts outside of the classroom.

Photo of students speaking with Dean Michael Barr at Fall Launch 2021

The Community Building Committee hosted the Ford School Fall Festival for faculty, staff, and students. Now that we’ve returned to in-person activities, we’re happy to bring back Café Fordies, an initiative to create space for students to interact with colleagues that they might not normally get to know. Students are randomly matched into groups of three each month, and encouraged to connect and get to know one another.

We launched the Center for Racial Justice (CRJ), which is one avenue through which we seek to advance anti-racism and racial justice. Led by Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, and Associate Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes, the CRJ is rooted in anti-racist activism and is expressly designed to not only examine and understand persisting racial inequalities and their relationship to public policy but also to advance research, dialogue, pedagogy, and creative projects that support and enhance movements for racial justice.

Kaltura Video

As we assess where we are at the end of our DEI strategic plan’s fifth year and the challenges faced, we realize there is still a great deal of work ahead. The challenges we face are ever-present, and our commitment to planning and implementing our DEI 2.0 Strategic Priority remains strong. This summer we collaborated with a team of strategic planning consultants from Sensei Change Associates, LLC, to support us in the transition by gathering and synthesizing ideas, experiences, and input from members of our community. Sensei team members are experts in supporting leaders with organizational culture change to advance strategic DEI and anti-racism initiatives. Sensei team members facilitated individual interviews as well as a series of one-hour focus groups to gather information regarding community members’ experiences and their ideas for new goals, activities, and strategic changes. This included input and feedback from students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

We realize that more work remains and feedback from faculty, staff, students, and alumni is an important part of strengthening these efforts. We continue to have accessible reporting procedures in place for students, faculty, and staff. This includes anonymous reporting options.