Bard College has historically been a sanctuary from ethnic, political, religious, and other forms of intolerance. We embody this legacy today with a strong investment in both local and global initiatives, from our Center for Civic Engagement to the Bard Prison Initiative and Early Colleges, as well as with our programs in Bishkek, Berlin, East Jerusalem, and St. Petersburg.
Social Justice Training
Faculty leaders at the College recently participated in social justice training with author, educator, and equity consultant Dax-Devlon Ross, who works with "individuals, organizations and institutions [to] achieve their social justice missions and bridge the gap between their stated values and actual practices." The College is in the process of creating additional training sessions for administrators and staff with Dax-Devlon Ross, who has facilitated Posse Plus Retreats for Bard in recent years.
The Office of the Dean of the College has partnered with the Lifetime Learning Institute (LLI) at Bard to support proposals last year and this; we gratefully acknowledge the generous support of LLI, which is central to the success of this funding initiative.
This year, Bard undergraduates will be able to take part in workshops to address practices of antiracism in the art world, interdisciplinary conferences, internships, Inclusion Fellow initiatives, and alumni/ae networking opportunities. Inclusion Libraries curated by students and faculty together are being established in Architecture and Photography. The Social Studies Division has launched a Racial Justice Course Cluster to “concentrate and coordinate curricular offerings having to do with equity, racial justice, and social power.” Students can register for these spring 2021 offerings in December; courses from across the divisions will be available. Social Studies is hosting a “Decolonizing the Curriculum” workshop to interrogate curricula as well as teaching methods. A post-election event, “Reading the Signs,” with faculty, students, and community participants recently took place.
DEI Statements for Academic Programs and Divisions
Academic programs and divisions are creating DEI statements for their programs and for course syllabi. The new statements are being posted on program websites. Director of Inclusive Pedagogy and Curriculum Michael Sadowski is working with individuals and with program-level working groups to support this process. Student groups in Photography, Studio Arts, and Theater and Performance are now in dialogue with faculty and Dr. Kahan Sablo, Dean of Inclusive Excellence, about critical efforts to transform teaching and learning as well as equity/access to materials, equipment, resources, and opportunities, especially in the Division of the Arts. The student-led SCALE Project has been a leader in examining the role and impact of socioeconomic status and class at Bard and, along with Council for Inclusive Excellence (CIE), represents a powerful site for communication and connection among students, staff, and faculty dedicated to rethinking access to all educational opportunities at the College.
The College also plans to expand curricular offerings next semester that deal explicitly with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Photography, Art History and Visual Culture, and Human Rights, which will offer a new seminar Disability Rights, Chronic Life with CCS writer, artist, and theorist Evan Calder Williams; Race, Health, and Inequality: A Global Perspective with Vice President Dumaine Williams; Law of Police with Professor Peter Rosenblum; and Civil Rights v. Human Rights with Professor Kwame Holmes.
Bard's Membership in the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development
Bard is in its third year of institutional membership with the NCFDD (National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development). NCFDD focuses on professional development and external mentoring for all faculty to ensure their success. NCFDD was founded by women scholars of color and is attentive to addressing the need for research and career support encountered by faculty of color through boot camps and writing challenges. Recent Bard faculty participants in the NCFDD Faculty Success Program include: Stefan Mendez-Diez (Mathematics, summer 2020); Omar Cheta (Middle Eastern Studies and Historical Studies, summer 2020); and Heather Bennett (Biology, summer 2020). Bard has also supported one post-tenure Pathfinders participant, Cathy Collins (Biology).
Photo by Karl Rabe
In the Classroom
Our curriculum encourages students to deepen their understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion through the Difference and Justice distribution requirement and Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses, as well as programs of study that create space for historically marginalized voices in the academy, including:
Students in the Inclusion at Bard course present their research on Matthew McDuffie, Class of 1889, at a new placard near the chapel honoring his life and work, as Professor Myra Young Armstead (far left) looks on.
Inclusion at Bard, Taught by Professor Myra Young Armstead
The nation's colleges and universities have served as stepping stones, remediating racial inequalities by providing pathways toward upward mobility for people of color. At the same time, recent revelations of the link between elite American institutions and slavery highlight their role in reproducing racial and other social hierarchies. Inclusion at Bard, an Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences course offering, explores how these contradictory dynamics manifested themselves at Bard College. In fall 2018, student research into the founders and alumni/ae of Bard College culminated in the creation and dedication of new signage on campus that encourages critical reflection on Bard’s history.