Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Our program is committed to the goal of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of departmental operations. Diversity, here, includes but is not limited to: race, indigeneity, gender identity, sexual orientation, caste, religion, cultural/educational background, (dis)ability, nationality, and socioeconomic status.
Current EDI Activities
- English faculty, staff, and graduate students are at work creating the department's three-year plan, which will be submitted in spring 2023 to the College of Liberal Arts. The department has engaged in sustained conversations about EDI challenges in every facet of the three-year planning process, with each meeting including discussion of how undergraduate curriculum, career readiness initiatives, graduate programs, hiring decisions, and public engagement could be approached to help us meet EDI goals.
- The Department of English and the Creative Writing Program hired three new assistant professors to start 2022-2023: Aamina Ahmad, author of the novel The Return of Faraz Ali (Riverhead); Megan Giddings, author of the novels The Women Could Fly (Amistad, 2022) and Lakewood (Amistad, 2020); and Jessica Horvath Williams, co-chair of the Critical Disability Studies Collective at the University of Minnesota and a scholar of feminist disability studies and 19th-century US history and literature. Williams was a President's Postdoctoral Fellow for English in 2021-2022.
- The Department of English and Creative Writing Program have increased BIPOC representation among adjunct instructors, an ongoing focus.
- The Creative Writing Program has supplemented their admissions readers with writers from diverse backgrounds and changed its admissions waitlist policy to a non-ranked system. The program also awarded program-based EDI fellowships for students who are creating/administering projects that promote EDI.
- The English department continues to collaborate with Mixed Blood Theatre to bring diverse actors to English classrooms to perform course texts. The program received 2021-2022 funding through the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub of the College of Liberal Arts; the department's Donovan Fund has furthered support for the program. In addition, Mixed Blood was honored with a CLA Civitas Community Partner Award for the collaboration.
- Creative Writing's Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer series and the Department of English's Freier Lectures in Literature series continue their commitment to showcasing BIPOC and GLBTQ+ writers with 2022-2023 events featuring authors Joy Harjo and Layli Long Soldier, Melissa Febos, Eloisa Amezcua and Tracy K. Smith, and Lan Samantha Chang. All events feature ASL interpreters and/or captioning.
- The department collaborated with youth advocacy organization Migizi to bring Native youth to the University for a campus tour and an exclusive writing workshop with visiting poet Layli Long Soldier.
Recent EDI Activities
- The MFA program in Creative Writing received Creating Inclusive Cohorts Training Grants in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, rare consecutive years of CIC funding from the Graduate School; the grants, which assist graduate programs in their efforts to increase and sustain student diversity, allowed Creative Writing to admit up to six students each year who qualify for the CIC first-year fellowship.
- The English department presented a 2021-2022 event series responding to increased and continuing violence against Asian Americans. The series began with a panel on "Asian American Visibility & Science Fiction: Reimagining Visions of the Future" (recording).
- In consultation with department graduate students, the graduate student workshop series "Virtual Room, Open Door: Conversations on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the English Department" was offered in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, with the goal of promoting a deeper understanding of EDI issues, especially as they intersect with the graduate training of MA, PhD, and MFA students in English.
- The department organized presentations for all faculty, staff, and instructors through the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE), Circle of Indigenous Nations, MLK Advising Program, Office for Equity & Diversity, and CAIR-MN.
- Graduate students, lecturers, and faculty collaborated with Senior Lecturer Eric Daigre to create The Syllabus and Early Weeks: Suggestions and Ideas for Building Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) into Our Courses—A Rough Guide, which was distributed to all instructors before spring semester 2021 and continues to be available as a department teaching resource.
- The department was awarded funding to support BIPOC English undergraduates in completing a spring 2021 survey on their needs and perspectives.
- In spring 2020 the department approved changes to the undergraduate English major that created a "Diversity" requirement, while combining requirements in “Textual Analysis” and “Language, Theory, and Criticism” into a single course in “Critical Theories and Methods.” The change went into effect fall 2021.
- The department is following the College of Liberal Arts’ equitization procedures to eliminate sex-based salary disparities, as well as any other disparities that have arisen.
- Both MFA and PhD graduate programs have eliminated the GRE requirement as a potential barrier to diverse applicants; program applicants are also now required to submit a diversity statement.
- Faculty searches now require applicants to submit a diversity statement. All search committees receive extensive instruction in implicit bias; search chairs and departmental administrators have implicit bias training.
2019 EDI Report
In the spring of 2019 English Chair Andrew Elfenbein initiated an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. This initial EDI Committee worked over the summer of 2019 to create a comprehensive report of the department's climate, representation, and programming, "We Are All in This: A Report Re: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion."
As a result of the document, a standing department committee on EDI was established. The EDI Committee is composed of three tenured and two tenure-track faculty, one staff member, one MFA graduate student, one PhD graduate student, and one graduate student alum. The role of the committee is to advise the department about specific actions and changes English can make to forward the goal of improving EDI within the department.