St. Augustine Hall

St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Antiracism Initiatives

St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in solidarity with the Antiracism Statement from University Senior Leadership issued on June 6, 2020, is committed “to doing the work necessary to become an antiracist” College.  In keeping with our mission, St. John’s College will provide a student-centered education in a socially diverse environment. We will develop in our students a critical consciousness and ethical perspective, preparing them for service and leadership roles in the local, national, and international spheres. Through research, students and faculty will exemplify the highest standards of scholarly inquiry and expression, contributing to the creation, acquisition, and dissemination of knowledge.  

The Dean’s Goals for AY 20-21 lay the foundation for the development of initiatives around antiracism, equity, and inclusion in St. John’s College.  

Goals, Timeline, and Task Force

Goal 1: To provide the highest quality academic experiences that engage learners through curricula employing diverse technology and pedagogy employing high-impact practices to create inclusive learning environments 

  • Program purposeful course design, teaching, and assessment that is engaging, meaningful, and accessible to all learners 
  • Incorporate research-based theories of how students learn and evidence-based teaching principles and practices 
  • Cultivate a teaching and learning environment that attends to students’ different social identities and backgrounds, and wherein students are treated fairly, have equal access to learning, feel welcome, valued, challenged, and supported to succeed academically 

Goal 2: To produce the highest quality of innovative research, scholarship, and creative activity 

  • Make vital contributions toward understanding and improving the human condition, to grow knowledge within and across disciplines, and/or to advance the University’s mission  
  • Communicate research, scholarship, and creative expression through academic and public channels, including through publications, presentations, and gallery appearances 
  • Seek extramural support for research, scholarship, and creative pursuits 

Goal 3: To strengthen our commitment to becoming an antiracist College of Liberal Arts and Sciences through action 

  • Examine curricula, including course content, syllabi, and resources, and implement a plan to educate students on issues of social justice and implications within their respective fields of study 
  • Review internal policies, practices, and procedures and develop a plan to eliminate bias 
  • Participate in activities, including trainings, workshops, and communities of practice, to understand implicit bias, microaggression, race, power, and privilege that will help advance racial equity 

A new St. John’s College task force, associated with the College’s goal of furthering our commitment as an antiracist College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was created in October 2020.  The task force was charged with developing two to three college-level action items associated with each of these three areas: 

  • Curriculum and Instruction 
  • Policies, procedures, and practices 
  • Professional Development 

An open application was sent out to all St. John’s College faculty, staff, and administrators for volunteers to serve on the task force.  To date, 45 members of the SJC community have signed up (36 faculty, six administrators, and three staff) and 15 SJC students have been nominated.  The first task force meeting  was held virtually on Thursday, October 15th during common hour. 

This task force will work during the Fall 2020 semester to identify two or three College-level action items associated with each area (bulleted point) of the Dean's 2020-2021 academic year goal to strengthen our commitment to becoming an antiracist College of Liberal Arts and Sciences through action: 

  • Examine curricula, including course content, syllabi, and resources, and implement a plan to educate students on issues of social justice and implications within their respective fields of study 
  • Review internal policies, practices, and procedures and develop a plan to eliminate bias 
  • Participate in activities, including trainings, workshops, and communities of practice, to understand implicit bias, microaggression, race, power, and privilege that will help advance racial equity 

The task force will be divided into three sub-teams associated with each of the three areas of the goal (indicated as bulleted points above).  At the kick-off meeting, the task force was given their charge, divided into sub-teams, and provided with some general resources.  Our expectation is that this initiative will be faculty-led.  Each sub-team will be asked to define how they wish to proceed, both in terms of process and structure.   

By the start of the Spring 2021 semester, each sub-team will have identified 2-3 specific College-level actions associated with their area.  At that point, we will convene as a larger task force to prioritize the action items, and then begin their implementation.  The action items are to be targeted, narrowly focused, and manageable for implementation and completion during the Spring 2021 semester.  Throughout the academic year, we will monitor our task force progress and assess the outcomes of our actions' continuous  improvement.  It is important that we limit the amount of time we study and plan, so as to remain action-oriented.   

We will utilize resources available throughout the University, including from the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Inclusivity Resource Center, and the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion. We will also utilize prior work that has been done across the University and within our College departments and programs, both for the sake of efficiency and for consistency across all levels of the Institution. 

The first meeting was held on Thursday, October 15th to give the task force their charge, provide institutional context, introduce the leadership of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, develop a sense of community, and begin the work of the sub-teams. 

Next Steps: 

  • Develop common ground and definitions among all task force members, in partnership with Manouchkathe Cassagnol and the ACEI 
  • Develop a repository and platform for communication (Microsoft Teams) 
  • Sub-teams to meet to continue to identify areas of focus 
  • Identify a plan to meaningfully incorporate students into our sub-teams 

Here are selective examples of what the College has been doing to advance our antiracism, equity, and inclusion agenda: 

  • Discussed the Dean’s commitment to antiracism, equity, and inclusion as part of her one-on-one meetings with every member of the dean’s office during her first two days as interim dean  
  • Included a status update as a standing agenda item on all Liberal Arts Faculty Council and Dean’s Advisory Board meetings  
  • Working in partnership with the leadership of the Office of Equity and Inclusion – Nada Llewellyn, Manouchkathe Cassagnol, and Monique Jernigan 
  • Promoting and supporting professional development for staff and administrators in SJC, including through participation in St. John’s programming, e.g., Discussion on Social Justice series, as well as external conferences and workshops for academic leaders, e.g. the Equity NOW! Webinar series 
  • Incorporating antiracism professional development in the RED evaluation process for all staff and administrators in St. John’s College 
  • Supporting and promoting existing and new curriculum and program development, e.g.,  
    • Further development of antiracist commitments and action plans of the departments, programs, and institutes in St. John’s College 
    • Development of a minor/major/department of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies 
    • Pilot programming for the use of Intergroup Dialogue in First Year Writing and as a stand-alone course 
  • Initiating reviews of college-level processes and initiatives 
  • Initiation of a St. John’s College Task Force on Antiracism, Equity, and Inclusion  

TBA