In February 2019, the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign voted unanimously to approve a set of policies intended to create a community of care and inclusion among its faculty, staff, and graduate students. Over the past academic year, our new standing Committee on Department Climate has brought together faculty and student representatives to discuss ways in which we might further our twin goals of diversity and inclusivity. Both faculty and graduate students have attended annual events designed to improve our working and teaching environment and to reaffirm our commitment to equity and inclusion. Meanwhile, an ad hoc committee began developing a survey to better gauge student and faculty concerns about the climate within our department (to be fielded in Spring 2021) and helped advise the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on construction of a college-wide survey.
Since the killing of George Floyd, and with gross inequities in the effects of the COVID pandemic, our department is considering what additional steps we can take to minimize bias and promote equity. We recognize that it is our responsibility to address and correct the ways in which our collective practices generate or amplify distinctions based on race or color, sex or sexual orientation, national origin or citizenship status, religion, disability, or other protected categories.
Toward that end, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to being a community of care and to make the following policy proposals. In developing this list of action-items, we are informed by efforts to diversify departments at other universities, which recommend the following: first, establishing collective support for the importance of diversity to our department; second, following through by committing department time and resources; and, third, creating an organizational culture that is consistently attuned to inter-group dynamics and encourages the visibility and participation of a diverse set of actors.
Specifically, our proposals address three different policy areas -- undergraduate and graduate teaching, graduate recruitment, faculty recruitment and retention -- and make both short-term and longer-term commitments. This list of proposals should be made available to members of our community on our website, and we should take care to update this agenda as we make progress on each individual action-item. The faculty will meet to discuss this document, our progress on these policy proposals, and any new goals, at least once annually.