Maxwell DEI Strategic Plan (DRAFT)

Value Proposition

The Maxwell School will strive to make real changes to move the needle on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

Preamble

As an educational institution, we at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs require a clear vision that will inform our actions on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as we move forward. As our community becomes increasingly diverse, so does our own contextual understanding of the world and the challenges our underrepresented community members face. We are committed to recognizing and addressing not only the barriers that inhibit their success but also—and this is critical given we are an institution grounded in the social sciences—the wider systemic issues that continue to thrive in our own blind spots. We will adopt a more focused approach that goes beyond educating students to be engaged citizens; rather, we see ourselves training a more diverse student body to be engaged leaders who work in the broader professional and academic environments. Our students will thus take with them a commitment to improving outcomes for all peoples, not just those that look like them or have comparable backgrounds and experiences.

The opportunity here is to devise an intentional and realistic strategy that not only makes plain our ideals but also articulates goals, tactics and measurable outcomes for the betterment of all over the short, medium and long term. This strategy attempts to be creative and innovative while not shifting that burden to the very individuals that have long struggled with how to achieve these goals. Key to this strategic plan then is the notion that any action we take has to be sustained through accountability, institutionalization and a change in culture. To do so, the development and execution of this plan will happen in collaboration with the broader Maxwell community–through meetings, events, initiatives and information dissemination to faculty, staff, students and alumni.

We share with the university a vision of a campus environment that appreciates and promotes diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, learning style, language and country of origin, disability, political ideology, religion and cultural perspectives. Inclusion means respectful, intentional and purposeful engagement with diverse students, faculty, alumni and staff. Equity entails ensuring that individuals receive the support they require to perform at their highest level. Accessibility requires making sure that physical and psychological obstacles do not prevent an individual’s participation or achievement. We integrate these core values to Maxwell’s vision for making them actionable.

Vision

  • To contribute as an educational institution towards the formation of engaged citizenship, shared prosperity and a functioning, just society for all of us, irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability, country of origin, age or class.
  • To increase our efforts in our teaching and research to document, discuss, interpret and reckon with the long record of racial, ethnic, religious, and gendered injustice, violence, and inequality that has damaged the United States and other societies over human history.
  • To push ourselves and our students to do more than merely understand systems of oppression, but also to use our knowledge of the social sciences to identify and find more creative and sustainable solutions to addressing injustices and systemic racism.
  • To understand the inequalities and injustices that have affected our increasingly diverse population of faculty, staff and students and to express solidarity from our respective positions with those of others.
  • To recognize that it takes consistent hard work to build and sustain a more inclusive, accessible and safer environment for all members of the Maxwell community.
  • To foster an inclusive learning environment where diversity of thought, rigorous debate and respectful disagreement is cultivated and expected.
  • To appreciate that many of our community members have experienced violence or threats of violence as a result of their identity or ideology, and to reinforce that the Maxwell School is a safe place for the free expression and exchange of ideas so long as they do not threaten the safety of our community members.

Though much is to be accomplished in all DEI-related areas, we will adopt a two-pronged approach to ensure measurable success on what we have already accomplished as well as key in on deficits that we need to address. First, we will increase our efforts to address how racial and ethnic equity factor into our mission as an educational institution and from there proceed deliberately through targeted initiatives. Second, we will continue to build on existing initiatives to work towards gender equity, to meet the needs of people of different abilities, sexual orientation, religious and ideological affinities, as well as class, racial and ethnic backgrounds. We will continue Maxwell’s commitment towards internationalization by making it a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds and from different regions across the globe.  

The Four Pillars: A Roadmap of DEI Initiatives at Maxwell

Awareness

This pillar signals a clear commitment to educating ourselves and making information on DEI readily available to all constituencies in Maxwell. Through a common understanding of the importance of learning and incorporating DEI into our teaching, research and administrative work, we make a statement that the lack of knowledge is no longer acceptable. We will work in a coordinated way with resources that already exist on campus and facilitate their use inside Maxwell. When necessary, we will generate our own initiatives to raise the profile of DEI throughout all our constituencies. Though our short-term goal is to raise awareness that DEI is one of our core values, we hope that it will become an organic feature of Maxwell’s culture in the longer term.

Initiatives will include:

Encourage revision of pedagogies and curricula: Offer curriculum reviews to enhance DEI in Maxwell’s courses. Encourage faculty to diversify their course offerings and compile updated lists of DEI-related courses.

Awareness building: Raise awareness of our membership in DEI-advocacy organizations to Maxwell constituencies, such as our participation in the Public Affairs Diversity Alliance.

Community

This pillar seeks to foster a sense of belonging among specific constituencies in Maxwell to nurture their connections and shared interests. The initiatives below bring together individuals from under-represented groups into umbrella organizations that ensure against isolation and foster a sense of belonging in Maxwell. They also extend to fostering intellectual communities to allow both faculty and students to understand how issues of interest to DEI, such as racism or inequality, are understood and studied in their discipline.

Initiatives will include:

Affinity groupsCreate groups for Maxwell graduate students, alumni, and staff similar to the Faculty of Color Group to establish social bonds among groups of color and to outline goals for collective interests.

Increase URM speakers: Encourage the invitation of speakers from under-represented groups to address various departments in Maxwell. Offer to co-sponsor these events, provide funding and support, and other assistance to invite URM speakers.

Advancing

This pillar represents our commitment to addressing DEI issues as they are brought to light and problem solving around equitable solutions. It is intended to focus on targeted initiatives geared towards fostering a richer DEI environment for faculty, students and staff of color. Areas of focus include recruitment, retention, skills building, award selection and student services.

Initiatives will include:

Retention: Review the institutional rubrics of Maxwell departments to uncover any barriers to the retention and promotion of URM faculty and staff. Formalize mentorship for URM faculty and staff to guide them towards their professional goals and career advancement.

Accountability

The driver behind this pillar is to institutionalize a change in culture inside Maxwell that renders permanent the need for diversity, equity and inclusion. If we have learned anything from past efforts, it is the need for sustained action to implement reforms and for holding leadership—and each other—accountable on following through on these reforms. We have also learned that this process for operationalizing such a strategic plan has to be transparent and include the voices of Maxwell’s many constituencies.

Initiatives will include:

Faculty accountability: Consult with faculty on incentives to fully complete yearly CV updates on DEI section to demonstrate how they are working to achieve these goals. Consult with the Maxwell Faculty Council and Department Chairs on ways to increase faculty completion of this section of updates.

Elements of the Plan Under Development:

Establishing a Plan of Action
  • Recent advances toward DEI at Maxwell
  • Areas for improvement
  • Benchmarking
  • Timeline
  • Organization

Your Feedback and Insight

We welcome and encourage the community's participation to the development of this strategic plan.

If you have thoughts, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email at MaxwellDEI@syr.edu.