DEI current work

What are we working on now?

Updated May 2024

CAPTION Digital Accessibility Guide Header
Digital Accessibility: CAPTION Quick Guide

The CAPTION Guide aims to inform Ford School faculty, staff, student organizations, event coordinators, and anyone utilizing digital mediums about accessibility checks for websites, documents, videos, course material, social media, and other digital content. Its primary purpose is to increase inclusivity and accessibility in the digital realm, allowing everyone, including those with disabilities, to fully participate and engage. The guide serves as a checklist and resource to consult before creating or interacting with digital mediums. Click here to view and/or download the CAPTION Checklist and click here to view the comprehensive CAPTION Quick Guide


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Books for Belonging

As part of the Ford School's ongoing efforts to foster a culture of belonging, the DEI Coalition opened a Books for Belonging mini-library in Weill Hall in May 2024. The Ford School Community donated over 60 books to the library and provided dozens of additional book suggestions on key topics of interest (e.g. anti-racism, disability and accessibility, gender and sexuality, mental health and well-being, international/intranational topics, faith/spirituality). 

To ensure the success of this initiative, the DEI Coalition invited the Ford School community to: 

  1. Recommend books: tell us about books you've read that have helped you understand others, or told a story that resonated with your experiences,
  2. Donate books to help build the library, or, 
  3. Both! Suggestions and donations will play a vital role in creating a collection that reflects the diverse perspectives and experiences within our community.
Sharpening our focus

The DEI coalition meets regularly to review the Ford School's planned activities in the DEI 2.0 strategic plan and to identify issues and propose new activities, initiatives, and organizational changes around four areas of focus:

  1. Disability & Accessibility
  2. International student success
    • Creation of an International Student Guidebook
    • Exploring the feasibility of installing a display of international flags in Weill Hall to showcase the diverse backgrounds of our student body.
  3. Gender & sexuality
    • Introduction of a Gender, Sexuality in Public Policy course in Fall 2024
  4. Mental health & wellbeing
    • Hosting a community-based intervention training for the 2024-2025 academic year.


Enhancing our curriculum

We support our faculty in their efforts to incorporate an explicit understanding of structural racism and the historical role that policy has played both in building inequality and pursuing equality. 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). Some of the Ford School's new courses in the 2023-24 academic year include:



Students from the ASPIRE summer 2023 cohort are welcomed by Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes and others in Weill Hall
Expanding our outreach

We’re strongly committed to strengthening important initiatives to increase diversity in public policy. Our summer 2023 pilot Applied Social Policy Internship and Research Experience (ASPIRE) program provided hands-on experience to four outstanding Spelman students interested in social science research. We are now working to expand the initiative's reach to collaborations with additional outstanding schools for next summer. 

Creating space for discourse and healing

This semester we are supporting CommuniTea, a student-led series of informal, bi-weekly gatherings on key topics of interest. These gatherings offer a space for open dialogue, reflection, and healing among students. The topics will range from local and national policy issues to global concerns, and the discussions will be shaped by our student organization leaders with the support of the DEI team.

Cultivating a diverse community of changemakers
Portraits of (top left to right) Clarence Wardell, Moya Bailey, (bottom left to right) Diane Wright and Angela Garcia
Portraits of (top left to right) Clarence Wardell, Moya Bailey, (bottom left to right) Diane Wright and Angela Garcia

The Ford School's Center for Racial Justice visiting fellows will host a Racial Justice in Practice Workshop in Winter 2024. The visiting fellows program offers racial justice leaders, activists, artists, advocates, and scholars a prestigious, highly competitive fellowship designed to recognize their transformative work to date and provide opportunities to strengthen their impact within the policy landscape.

  • Dr. Moya Z. Bailey, an associate professor at Northwestern is working on a three-part documentary series that investigates the experiences of Black women providers, patients, and advocates within the United States healthcare system, and to propose new policies and protocols addressing deep disparities in care. 
  • Dr. Angela S. García, associate professor at the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, is working on her second monograph  that centers the temporal dimensions of “illegality” and stems from the recognition that time is an irreplaceable form of human capital.
  • Dr. Clarence Wardell III, senior program officer on the Economic Mobility and Opportunity team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will further a co-authored monograph that leverages their experiences designing and leading key elements of the Biden-Harris Administration’s equity initiatives, as well as developing policy case studies that examine key aspects of the Administration’s historic efforts to advance racial equity.
  • Diane J. Wright is a biracial, invisibly disabled Canadian-American filmmaker, author, and disability advocate of Afro-Caribbean descent. Her book manuscript meaningfully connects her disability justice work with the history of the African Diaspora to create an interwoven, detailed view of how and why Black autistic lives continue to be overlooked, underserved, misunderstood, persecuted, institutionalized, incarcerated, murdered, and systemically erased.