DEI Efforts at SPIA

May 03 2021
By Nolan McCarty, Interim Dean

In my first month as interim dean, I’ve noticed a common thread in our community: a sharp focus on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. As many of you know, the School is undergoing an MPA curriculum review, which we are eager to share with the next SPIA dean once appointed. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight a few efforts related to DEI from the past academic year.

I want to thank Zia Mian over at our Program on Science and Global Security for telling me about the curriculum resources SGS is offering that counter structural racism, exclusion, and domination in nuclear arms control and security studies. The Curriculum Resources Project is part of the program’s acknowledgement of and response to structural racism and other forms of exclusion and domination. The effort was led by Tamara Patton, a SPIA Ph.D. student.

Andy Reynolds, who joined the School at the start of this academic year, has been running a weekly Queer Politics Webinar, which provides a space for LGBTQ scholars and allies to discuss LGBTQ politics and public policy. So far, he’s held 28 seminars, attracting up to 600 attendees. He’s designed this webinar series to be diverse; 32% of presenters have been BIPOC, and 36% have been women. The series has hosted a number of prominent politicians and activists including Andrea Jenkins, the first and only Black transgender woman in office in the United States, and Park Cannon, a Black, queer legislator from Georgia. I hope you can attend one of these conversations, which happen Thursdays at noon.

Finally, Laura de Olden of our Graduate Program Office held three DEI workshops for faculty in fall 2020. A number of SPIA faculty participated in these trainings and shared feedback with me. I wanted to highlight just a few responses:

  • Jacob N. Shapiro, professor of politics and international affairs, took the course because he teaches on subjects that can be sensitive as they involve intense intergroup conflict. He felt the workshop was a good resource to “check in” and share thoughts on how to engage on difficult topics in a constructive manner. “In the context of the courses I teach, applying inclusive teaching principles means eliciting input broadly in class and also helping the students to understand all sides of the political conflicts that we study,” he said.
  • Salam Fayyad, visiting senior scholar and Daniella Lipper Coules '95 Distinguished Visitor in Foreign Affairs, felt the workshop brought into focus how faculty must view students as individuals. “With each student, regardless of background, there are influences that almost always cut across traditional classification or categorization lines,” Fayyad said.

Teaching and research are the heart of Princeton’s mission, and conversations on inclusivity will only make our work stronger. I look forward to sharing more updates like these in the months ahead.