2020-2021 Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Initiatives

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has identified three priority areas of focus to help lead the Harvard Chan School toward becoming the inclusive, equitable, and antiracist environment that we aspire to be: leadership and community-wide learning and development; assessing and enhancing culture and practices; and diversity strategic planning. We will also set foundations this year upon which we will build future efforts.

Leadership and community-wide learning and development 

Institutional success and progress on matters of systemic oppression, implicit bias, marginalization, and racial inequities can be fully attained only with involvement from individuals and leaders at all levels of our School. Although we have an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, one office alone cannot achieve the goals before us without the collective engagement of the community. So we must invest in building our capacity in multiple areas, including the following: 

  • Our department chairs will participate in an ongoing leadership development program that will focus on critical issues of diversity, inclusion, belonging, and antiracism, with an emphasis on approaches for action and change as a part of leading diverse communities. 
  • We will develop a diversity-focused learning and development framework for the School that embeds DIB (diversity, inclusion, and belonging) learning into the core Harvard Chan School experience, with attention to content delivery and with consideration for student educational pathways and employee life cycles as a part of that process. Among other areas, such a framework will speak to transitional and onboarding experiences, managerial responsibilities, classroom teaching and learning, and research practices. 
  • We will implement a community-wide Race.Action.Dialogue workshop series focused on interpersonal and systemic racism, skills for race-based dialogue, and practices for fostering antiracist environments. These sessions will be accompanied by reflective sessions in subsequent weeks that will include opportunities for continued affinity group engagement. 
  • We will develop a School-wide values statement that captures the desired behavioral outcomes reflective of an inclusive and affirming community. This statement will inform professional development activities. 
  • Our Community Impact Initiative will create opportunities to bring students, faculty, staff, postdocs, and research scientists together to facilitate ethical and antiracist engagement with community organizations working to address structural racism within such areas as access to healthcare, housing, police violence, and environmental justice. 

Assessing and enhancing culture and practices 

In undertaking our work, it is important that we gather, review, and analyze data and information to inform our actions. Steps forward should be grounded in the information we have about our community at both the School and the department levels. 

  • In summer 2020, we initiated a multidimensional assessment process between the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and our academic departments, the goal of which is to support the development of DIB action plans and the implementation of these activities within each department. 
  • In 20202021, we will assess current practices and opportunities toward identifying new diversity recruitment priorities at the School level. This work will inform our ongoing strategic planning efforts (see below).
  • Through our Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACDI) Assessment Working Group, we will identify approaches and prioritize critical areas for review and assessment regarding equity and inclusion. This work will include attention to the sequencing of such activities, as well as determination of School-wide climate assessment practices; review of policy, process, and curricular experience; and creation of focus groups to better understand group/intergroup experiences, among other areas.  

Diversity strategic planning 

We will initiate a strategic planning process designed to develop a roadmap for progress on high-priority items that will have a significant long-term and sustainable impact at our School. It will be important to ground our work in data and evidence-based practices that are coordinated across the School to ensure progress and School-wide impact where critical. 

  • Through DACDI, we will use our Strategic Planning Working Group to help facilitate and drive forward the strategic planning process throughout the course of the year. We will also incorporate information gathered in our current assessment activities, the work of the recent past, and the data collected via previous surveys and assessments. 
  • This process will also allow us as a School to clearly articulate our multiyear goals and priorities in relation to critical areas and persistent issues tied to recruitment and retention, sense of belonging, DIB/antiracist-focused learning, and our ability to embed best practices into the core experiences of the School. 
  • We will be working toward development of a three-year diversity plan for the School, with leadership and community engagement throughout the year that will create room for information sharing and dialogue with respect to reviewing and understanding the data, identifying priorities, exploring accountability systems, and more. 

Setting foundations this year 

Part of building a strong foundation for our ongoing efforts is enhancing existing capacity, programs, and services offered through ODI. Some of these steps include: 

  • elevating our bias-response practices 
  • data tracking and sharing 
  • building awareness and visibility in our community around ODI and University-wide diversity resources 
  • increasing programming presence during heritage and cultural awareness months 
  • increasing access to information via our web content and other channels; and
  • supporting the continuation of successful initiatives into the virtual environment 

Join us 

We encourage you to become involved with our diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts. Please contact our office with any thoughts, comments, or questions.