Ensure Diverse & Inclusive Environment
The IU School of Social Work seeks to Ensure a Diverse and Inclusive Environment for its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Central to strengthening our internal environment and advancing external efforts, this pillar rose to the top of all stakeholders’ strategic priorities identified for the next three to five years.
Three specific focal areas will guide our work in this strategic area:
Affirming Culture and Community, Activating our Voices, Addressing Societal Inequities.
Focus Area 1. Affirming Culture and Community #
The School recognizes that culture, diversity, and community are complex issues, shaped by context and structural conditions that may carry disparate meanings among members of our School community. This subtheme emphasizes the critical role of respect and demonstrating social work values within the School’s culture; making certain that diversity is both reflected and honored in every aspect of the School; and continually assessing the School’s climate and culture to hold itself accountable to its plan.
Create an inclusive culture within IUSSW that celebrates complex diversity that recognizes intersectionality, invisible identities, life experiences, and acknowledges the context.
Operationalize, then embody IUSSW’s definition of diversity, equity and inclusivity.
Promote dialogue to address adverse interpersonal situations that compromise functioning in our diverse and inclusive cultural environment.
Ensure each campus’ input is valued equally and responded to in transparent ways.
Taking stock of the School’s current cultural climate in a constructive and safe manner and developing a process for ongoing assessment will help us to monitor our progress toward the diversity, equity, and inclusion we seek across our system. Our plan recognizes multiple forms of individual diversity, including life experiences, hidden identities, and intersectionality, and sets responsive and holistic goals inclusive of varied social identities. As culture and diversity are dynamic constructs, fostering a stance of cultural humility is critical to maintaining an inclusive community that honors diversity. Actionable strategies to exercise cultural humility at the individual, group, and institutional levels provide metrics to hold ourselves accountable to the foundational values on which the profession of social work is built.
Focus Area 2. Activating our Voices #
Our aim for this focal area is to move beyond the rhetoric of diversity to concrete, workable actions that can transform the culture of the school and help both Social Work and Labor Studies maintain their positions as cutting-edge leaders in their respective fields. Activating Our Voices creates a new environment for the School in which ALL voices are heard and participate as full partners in the planning and execution of our day-to-day operations.
Three strategic goals will guide our work in areas including Recruitment and Retention of employees, Curriculum, and School and University Culture. The goals and objectives in this strategic area lean heavily on the Diversity Plan established and approved in 2018.
Increase the number of Black/African-American, Latinx, Indigenous and other underrepresented minoritized people employed at IUSSW.
Curriculum: We seek a multicultural education approach incorporating communication models to enhance teaching with non-oppressive practices while actively preventing passing of oppressive historical traumas.
University and School Culture: Activating our Voices and Actions needs to be part of a complete culture of diversity to ensure that all voices are heard, and that all stakeholders have opportunities for full participation.
A straight-forward set of activities and metrics will guide Recruitment and Retention to achieve the goal of increasing the number of African-American, Latinx, Indigenous, and other underrepresented minoritized persons employed at the IUSSW, as well as the promotion of the same to positions of leadership. The Curriculum area focuses on activities and metrics to achieve the goal of a non-oppressive multi-cultural set of education practices while actively dismantling the legacies of coloniality and racism that persist in our implicit and explicit daily practices. The term “activating our voices” includes the full participation of all stakeholders in the daily operation of the school. We will strive to eliminate, through training and exercises, patterns of implicit and explicit bias, and to promote team-building, respect, and humility. Activating Our Voices through concrete actions will change the culture of the school from the inside out.
It is not only important that we activate our voices, but also our thoughts and actions as we create safe milieus for discussion. Through dialogue we will give space for students, faculty, and staff to share their experience in the School, elevate individual self-awareness, and challenge ourselves toward growth as individuals and as a community, to be a place where every voice is welcomed and valued. Activating our actions to promote changes within the School means connecting, establishing allies, and committing to making changes that leave positive impressions on our students and faculty when they enter the program until they leave, and beyond.
It is imperative to not only implement plans to strengthen our solidarity and build the school we want to be but to also ensure in and through our daily actions that we do more than “welcome” diverse voices, or “tolerate” difference. We must take the next steps beyond the catch-phrase diversity that permeates so many well-meaning institutional manifestos. Instead, we will move toward an environment where activating and honoring all voices means unity and strength will come through radical solidarity, mutual respect, and attentive leadership. Work in this focal area invites our faculty, staff, and students to do the uncomfortable, rather than the routine, to take the path less traveled, and be fearless in the implementation plans that serve to change the culture of our school, and, indeed, ourselves.
Focus Area 3. Addressing Societal Inequities #
Recent events in the external environment call our attention to the broader structural conditions that surround the IU School of Social Work, which require longer-term strategies to achieve positive change. An affirming culture and community within our institution cannot be fully achieved without attending to structural inequities in the social work profession and society at large.
The School meaningfully contributes to anti-oppressive, decolonizing, and anti-racist efforts that challenge longstanding systems of inequity and representation in the broader community context.
Over the next three to five years, the School will partner with our local communities to identify and implement strategies to actively engage in anti-oppressive, decolonizing, and anti-racist community efforts. We will build on the strengths of our faculty, alumni, staff, and students to engage in collaborative research and service to support organizational and broader community efforts in bringing about social change.