History's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

The Department of History commits itself to fostering a truly democratic education by promoting, through studies, deliberation, and action, values that are central to robust and pluralistic democracy. This commitment includes

  • Intersectional diversity: adopting interventions that work toward undoing hierarchies of race, class, gender, and bases of exclusion by group or identity;
  • Equity: recognizing that a just society must actively combat the inequalities of outcome that result from these hierarchies; and
  • Inclusion: creating an environment in which historically under-represented individuals and groups not only subjectively feel part of the department, but are empowered to shape its collective life.

Through our commitment to intersectional diversity, equity, and inclusion (iDEI), we shall strive to provide a supportive environment for students and faculty and staff, and to build and maintain a community of scholars with varying origins, identities, and perspectives, such as those rooted in race, indigeneity, socio-economic class, religion, ethnicity, nationality, caste, (dis)ability, sexuality, gender, citizenship status, and/or age.

The discipline of history has a long and complicated relationship with the construction of each of these categories, one in which it bears a material measure of responsibility. Since its founding, the historical profession has been a source of grave harm as well as a vehicle for hope, witness, and reckoning. As the field has long been a site of struggle over both interpretation and participation, its inclusion of new voices and perspectives has revitalized and reshaped the discipline, making important, frequently restorative interventions with respect to each of those categories. Centering iDEI efforts is one critical form of redress to which our department commits itself. We do this on behalf of our students, to promote the responsible practice of the historical profession, and as part of the University’s ongoing mission as a public land grant university to promote learning, discovery, engagement, and transformational change for the common good.

The department will promote these values of iDEI in all aspects of its collective life, including intellectual activity, curriculum, the constitution of its student body, hiring and retention, and self-evaluation.

Intellectual activity

Because the most evident object of the discipline of history, the interpretation of the past, has been central to modern politics, history has often been implicitly or explicitly implicated in debates over the meaning of democracy. To argue about facts and meaning in the past is also, inevitably, to argue about the contours of the present; indeed, it is from the present that historians have often taken their questions. To work toward our collective goal of understanding the past in all its complexities,

  • We recognize that the concepts we draw on as historians are often marked by unconscious exclusions antithetical to the spirit of iDEI, and we commit to reflecting critically on these exclusions, the methodologies we adopt, and the historiography with which we engage.
  • We recognize that it is essential that the study of history be conducted by people with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences engaging multiple perspectives.
  • We shall provide institutional spaces where we will critically reflect as a community on the issues of iDEI that we ask individually as scholars.
  • We shall value all manner of critically engaged historical scholarship that bears on contemporary problems.
  • We shall support and credit public-facing engagement, especially where historical scholarship may be introduced to redress public misconceptions.

Curriculum and classroom

Some of the most important work in the department is done in the classroom, and we commit to the pursuit of iDEI here along the following axes.

  • Content: encouraging instructors to develop and deliver courses that address historical questions related to intersectional diversity and that incorporate historical scholarship that reflects such diversity.
  • Classroom interaction: providing for many forms of student excellence through learning strategies that encourage engagement across differences and challenge classroom practices that reproduce dynamics of exclusion and marginalization.
  • Evaluation: sensitizing instructors to understand "merit" more critically, broadly, and thoughtfully; and offering instructors resources to enable the potential adoption of grading policies that recognize "merit" in a variety of ways, including dimensions of merit that may be often overlooked or marginalized.
  • We shall support and credit course creation and revision that address content, classroom interaction, and evaluation in pursuit of the above.

Constitution of the student body

Recognizing that the discipline of history must actively work to include groups of undergraduate and graduate students that have been excluded from or marginalized in higher education, we undertake as a department to

  • Reaching out to racially and otherwise historically excluded and/or disempowered undergraduate students to encourage them to take up the discipline of history.
  • Redressing concerns of intersectionally diverse students about their sense of marginality within the graduate student community.
  • Developing a process for assessing and addressing the climate across courses and departmental culture.
  • Building upon and nurturing relationships with Historically Black College and Universities started over the past two years with the goal of creating a pipeline for graduate studies applications. Identify existing resources and develop new funding sources to ensure the continuation of pipeline programs and to support the recruitment of students from HBCUs.
  • At both undergraduate and graduate levels, recognizing the multiple identities of underrepresented students and work to ameliorate intersecting oppressions that they may experience on campus and in the academy.

Hiring and Retention

In order to diversify and enrich the production of historical knowledge, we as a department commit to

  • Actively seeking out opportunities to hire racially, socially, and otherwise historically excluded faculty and staff.
  • Advancing racially, socially, and otherwise historically excluded faculty and staff through tenure and promotion and into senior-level roles
  • Recognizing iDEI work in department documents listing activities to be assessed in evaluations.

Self-evaluation and Re-commitment

In order to meet the commitments outlined in this statement, we as a department commit to

  • Soliciting feedback from undergraduates and graduate students through the Undergraduate Studies Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee at least once each semester, and channeling that feedback through the Diversity Committee to Department meetings.
  • Providing a designated time, during at least one department meeting every semester, to discuss and evaluate our success or failure in meeting the above goals.
  • Creating a report through the Diversity Committee at least once each semester to circulate the findings, address challenges, and recommit to the above goals.

Approved March 1, 2021