In recognition of the realities of systemic racism and the historical/ongoing harm to BIPOC members of our community, members of the psychology department have come together to form a social justice working group. This work aligns with the college-wide work of becoming an anti-racist college. Our working group goals are to promote awareness, cultural humility, social justice, and accountability through learning and taking action, as individuals and in our disciplines and communities. We also seek to support the well-being of members of our community from historically oppressed and marginalized groups, recognizing that those of us with the most institutional privilege have the greatest responsibility to confront injustice, racism, and oppression.
During Summer 2020, we formed a social justice working group. This group met regularly to discuss three books: White Fragility (by sociologist Robin DiAngelo), Whistling Vivaldi (by social psychologist Claude Steele), and When They Call You a Terrorist (by activist Patrisse Cullors). During the 2020-2021 academic year, we will read and discuss Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences (by diversity and inclusion experts Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman).
We recognize that awareness must inform action. As such, our working group meets regularly to discuss how we, as educators, can promote social justice and anti-racism. One primary goal involves curricular revision. During Fall 2020, we began with an assessment of what we are already doing in our classes to teach about social justice and anti-racism. Furthermore, we are developing a new 200-level course on the psychology of social justice and a new 452 course option that addresses topics of bigotry and bias. Another primary goal is to find new ways to educate, support, and engage our students that will facilitate meaningful rapport, build trust, and support community growth. We are administering a short survey to gain feedback from students about their interests and priorities. We are creating a new senior award recognizing student contributions to diversity, inclusion, and equity. We are also planning a series of workshops in which faculty will present research articles in varied content areas, all of which can be discussed in terms of social justice and antiracism lenses. These workshops may increase our awareness of the social justice implications of common concepts and methodological practices in professional psychology. These workshops also will provide opportunities for faculty members to practice new ways of thinking about and presenting material that can be integrated into courses across the curriculum.
The social justice working group recognizes that becoming an anti-racist college and department is a long-term process and our current actions are only a beginning. As a group, we are eager to continue to learn and act.