Equity & Diversity Initiative
The Department of English at the University of Minnesota is committed to the goal of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of departmental operations.
2019 EDI Report
In the spring of 2019 English Chair Andrew Elfenbein intiated 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 "as a means of creating recommendations to help guide and compose aspects of our department’s three-year plan." The resulting document, "We Are ALL in This: A Report Re: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion," is an extensive overview, noting strengths and weaknesses. The report was presented to the department in fall 2019.
The committee recommended, and the department approved, that a standing department committee on EDI be 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.
As envisioned, the 2019 report informed the department's three-year plan submitted in spring 2020 to the College of Liberal Arts, which included a list of action items pertaining to consultation and collaboration with other units, improvement of departmental media and communications, training and mentorship, curriculum redesign, support of EDI-related research and creative projects, and dedicated recruitment and hiring of faculty, staff, and students (both graduate and undergraduate).
2020-2021 EDI Activities
Several of the action items recommended in the EDI Committee report and/or the English department three-year plan are underway:
- 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’s equitization procedures to eliminate sex-based salary disparities, as well as any other disparities that have arisen.
- 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" is being offered in 2020-2021, 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 workshops focus on issues of race and social justice as related to reading, writing, teaching, academic administration, mentoring, and publication. English faculty and staff also attend, and graduate students from other units are welcome; register in advance.
- The MFA program in Creative Writing received permission to admit up to six students for fall 2021 who qualify for the Creating Inclusive Cohorts first-year fellowship. The application deadline is December 15, 2020.
- 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.
- The 2019-2020 faculty search required applicants to submit a diversity statement. All search committees receive extensive instruction in implicit bias; search chairs and departmental administrators have implicit bias training.
- An EDI-related book club met in 2019-2020 until the University shut down in March. Titles included Claudia Rankine's Citizen, Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries, and Kali Fajardo-Anstine's Sabrina and Corina.
- The department has applied for funding to support BIPOC English undergraduates in completing a survey on their needs and perspectives.