Ayana Evans performing on Elbel Field and being recorded by camera

Stamps School of Art & Design

Stamps School Hosts Visiting Performing Artist

In keeping with its goal of connecting students with artists and designers from across the globe, the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan invited NYC-based performance artist Ayana Evans to be a Roman J. Witt Visiting Artist during the Fall 2020 semester. Internationally known for guerilla-style street performances that explore the body, race relations and gender bias, Evans has performed internationally at New York’s El Museo Del Barrio,the Barnes Foundation, arts festivals in Great Britain and Ghana and more. The visit was organized by Stamps professor Rebekah Modrak, who brought together cheerleaders from the U-M Cheer team, vocalists and actors from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance and professional artists based in Detroit to bring Evans’ new performance to life on U-M’s Elbel Field. Stamps students in Modrak’s “Dressing Up and Down” course created costumes for the performance. With Evan directing remotely from NYC, the group created a video performance entitled You Better Be Good to Me.

“While there was planning done for the performance, there were also many decisions that had to be made on the day of filming, and I was really grateful that she put so much trust in us to deliver her message,” said Stamps senior Shannon Yeung (BFA ’21) of the collaboration with Evans.

The performance, which was supported by the U-M Arts Initiative, was featured at the 2021 U-M Reverend Martin Luther King Junior Symposium and can be viewed on vimeo and as part of Evans’ Penny Stamps Speaker Series talk.

A vintage photo of a group of African American students on a porch

Bentley Historical Library

Sharing African American Student History at U-M

The Library’s recent project to discover, document and digitally share findings on the history of African American students at the University of Michigan proved to be extremely productive, despite pandemic-related limitations that prevented the Bentley team from conducting onsite research for several months. The now-completed project reveals valuable—and fascinating—information and insights on the collective identity of African American students at the University of Michigan over time. A website is currently under development and will be made available to the public in fall 2021.

People presenting with pieces of paper stuck to windows in a classroom

Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning

Design Justice Actions + Syllabi Equity Review

The Taubman College Student Group Coalition, composed of students and multiple student organizations, partnered with alumni to spearhead the Design Justice Actions Letter. One of Taubman’s largest student-led DEI activities to date, this initiative called on leadership, faculty, staff and students to dismantle the racist structures embedded within our institution. In response, college leadership and the DEI team developed a framework to accelerate progress and add new approaches to the current DEI plan. To date, all 12 actions are either completed or in progress. Most notable is the syllabus equity review led by a working group of architecture students and faculty. In all,15 working groups held 30 working group sessions with architecture faculty and students to review all core—and many non-core—courses for the Fall and Winter semesters. In urban planning, the department chair met with students multiple times to determine how best to partner with faculty in a syllabi equity review effort.

A group of people meeting around a conference table in the Duderstadt Center

Office of VP Research OVPR

Anti-Racism Grants Program

This $900,000 OVPR Anti-Racism Grants program was created to catalyze innovative research and scholarship that advances knowledge around complex societal racial inequalities and can inform actions to achieve equity and justice. Developed in partnership with the Provost’s Anti-Racism Initiative and the Anti-Racism Collaborative supported through the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the grant program is intended to support rigorous, intellectually ambitious and technically sound research relevant to society’s most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in relation to racial equity and justice. Another goal is to make primary investigator teams competitive for future external funding at the federal, foundation and industry level. The program welcomed submissions from diverse research/scholarship teams without regard to discipline/field, race/ethnicity, gender or faculty status. In all, there were 41 proposals from across campus, demonstrating our faculty’s capacity to address critical issues ranging from technology and police surveillance among Black communities to anti-Asian xenophobia and activism during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students meeting together outside and sitting on the ground on the DIAG

Office of VP for Research (OVPR)

Student Opportunities for AIDS/HIV Research (SOAR) Program

The Student Opportunities for AIDS/HIV Research (SOAR) Program, a two-year experience for juniors and seniors, aims to prepare students for graduate education and eventual careers in behavioral and social science research involving HIV, with a focus on sexual and gender minority communities of color. The Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) was successful in its first submission for a $1.2 million R25 training grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund the program, scheduled to launch in September. The five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) will support implementation of this innovative academic and research mentoring program for undergraduate students across the U-M’s Ann Arbor campus. This marks the first time that NIMH/OBSSR has funded an HIV-focused undergraduate training program located at a midwestern university; provided a two-year pipeline program to support the transition from undergraduate to graduate education; or focused on sexual and gender minority and other minoritized students.

Luke Shaefer speaking on a panel

Ford School of Public Policy

Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy

With a transformational set of gifts totaling $17 million from Harold and Carol Kohn and the Kohn Charitable Trust, the Ford School will establish the Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy, a resource hub to catalyze innovative, interdisciplinary research on policy that promotes social equity and inclusion for all U.S. residents. A total of five new professorships will form the core of the Collaborative. The Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professorship in Social Policy and Social Justice is currently held by Luke Shaefer, a nationally recognized expert on anti-poverty policy and director of the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions. The Harold Kohn Professorship will support economic research that furthers social equity and inclusion. The Carol Kakalec Kohn Professorship will advance social equity through U.S. education policy. The Karl and Martha Kohn Professorship of Social Policy will advance societal equity and inclusion. The Arlene Susan Kohn Professorship of Social Policy will address the rights of the disabled. The Kohn Collaborative will also fund two Rackham Master’s Awards at the Ford School, and provide core funding for collaborative research and policy engagement.

Three people presenting at a podium

College of Literature, Science and the Arts, School of Education, School of Information, Ross School of Business

Anti-Racism Initiatives in Curriculum and Scholarship

Multiple units on campus engaged in notable efforts to advance anti-racism across curricular and research domains. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts hosted a public conversation to reflect on the resulting trauma and activism. Ultimately, this led to the launch of Community Conversations, focused on the work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative. Many departments across LSA, including 22 units in Undergraduate Education, hosted reading groups throughout the academic year. Undergraduate Education also created an anti-racism faculty development series for Fall 2021. In addition, the College launched an Anti-Racism Task Force composed of faculty, staff and students with deep expertise in anti-racism work which surfaced a list of far-reaching recommendations for curriculum design, hiring/promotion/supervisory practices and admissions. Finally, LSA implemented policy changes that are more transfer-friendly and support student success. The School of Education continued its Anti-Racism Colloquia series in which students and faculty collaborate to present research related to pressing DEI issues in education and to support research and teaching centered on educational justice. In addition, SOE created Anti-Racist Mini-Grants for students seeking to work on education research and scholarship that advances capacity to create an anti-racist environment. Direct grants to students totaled $10,000. The School of Information expanded the mandate and membership of its DEI Committee to focus on creating an anti-racist curriculum and developing anti-racist approaches across the school. This followed engagement with student and alumni members of Black@SI, who met with School leadership over the summer to set an agenda for action on anti-racism. Key accomplishments of the past year included a set of anti-racist course design guidelines for instructors, a Race and Technology reading list, a series of workshops on anti-racist instruction and facilitated focus groups exploring issues impacting Black students at UMSI. The Ross School of Business formed its DEI Curriculum Task Force in Fall 2020 to develop and facilitate implementation of proposals designed to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in the Ross curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Task Force membership comprised faculty, staff and students—both undergraduate and graduate–who formed subgroups to work on specific domains. These groups reviewed current course offerings and instructional practices and met with other faculty and students throughout AY 2020–21 in order to develop recommendations for metrics, courses and course materials, inclusive teaching practices and co-curricular activities.

A group of people behind a table with a U-M Social Work branded tablecloth over it

School of Social Work

Centering Justice Training Modules

In order to assure that social justice and anti-racism are focal points of its entire curriculum, SSW developed online, self-paced modules to help faculty explore Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (P.O.D.S.). These modules help to identify how to act to center justice in our society and classrooms. The Centering Justice modules consist of five lessons including: Centering Justice; Diversity and Positionalities; Privilege, Oppression and Intersectionality; Social Justice; and Act to Center Justice. Relevant aspects of Centering Justice were also included in the SW 590 course, Introduction to Social Work Practice, which is required for all incoming MSW students. In addition, the modules built on the principles presented in the SSW’s Undoing Racism workshop during student orientation. Together, these efforts provided our community with a common framework and shared language relating to privilege, oppression, diversity, social justice and anti-racism.