About: Diversity Action Group
SAIC's Diversity Action Group (DAG) initiated the school's broad focus on diversity within our leadership, curriculum, and student body. It was formed as a result of SAIC's 2009 strategic planning process, which included seven initiatives, around each of which an action group was formed. Addressing the "Build Diversity" initiative, DAG recognized that "diversity is central to our creative and innovative inspiration. We aspire to a diverse community, not only of students but also of faculty and staff as well."
DAG began by organizing a series of three symposia and then drafting a Diversity Action Plan based on the proceedings and input from SAIC students, faculty, and staff. The plan's holistic goal was to "create a welcoming climate of inclusiveness for all peoples, all types of individuals, and all potential SAIC stakeholders."
The first symposium, in 2011, addressed diversity in the highest levels of leadership at SAIC, including the President and his cabinet. A second symposium the following year focused on diversity in the school's curricula, and a third symposium in 2013 centered on the student body and students' needs.
The Diversity Action Plan outlined several goals:
- Create a curriculum that represents contributions from a broad scope of artists, designers, and scholars, encouraging diverse making, scholarship, and activity among all students, faculty, and staff
- Establish more diverse course offerings as part of a curricular "identity and infusion" strategy and incorporate diversity perspectives and content into currently existing courses
- Create clear communications that recognizes the school's current diversity, candidly pictures how SAIC aspires to become more diverse, and proactively helps achieve that aspiration
- Build connectivity between the school and partners throughout the city and beyond that help diversify the SAIC community
- Create a welcoming climate of inclusiveness for all peoples, all types of individuals, and all potential SAIC stakeholders
- Incorporate diversity issues and perspectives into the student work critique process
- Create diversity workshops that address cultural competency and how to handle sensitive conversations for all SAIC full- and part-time faculty to instill a sense of responsibility for diversity discourse
- Support first-day-of-class icebreakers, preferred pronoun discussions, and classroom conduct guidelines to instill a sense of responsibility for diversity discourse
- Standardize diversity-related language in syllabi to instill a sense of responsibility for diversity discourse
In order to realize these goals, the school has formed the Diversity Advisory Group, or DAG 2.0, which is dedicated to making SAIC an increasingly diverse place to learn and live. This group will comprise four subcommittees, each focused on one of these key principles: curriculum, communications, connectivity, and climate. These groups of students, faculty, and staff will work together to sustain and augment the scope of diversity at SAIC.
DAG 2.0 has initiated the realignment of some staff responsibilities as well as staff positions to support SAIC's diversity efforts:
Rashayla Brown is SAIC's Director of Student Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion. She sits on DAG 2.0 and all of its sub-committees, and works closely to integrate diversity initiatives in and out of the classroom. Reporting to the Dean of Student Life, Rashayla will also work to foster diverse civic engagement and student development opportunities.
SAIC is currently in the hiring process for the new Director of Academic Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion—a hybrid position tasking a faculty member, whose scholarly work reflects the broadest definition of diversity, with curriculum review and professional development activities to complement a reduced teaching load. The director will sit on DAG 2.0 and all its subcommittees, report to the Dean of Faculty, and be recruited and hired through the standard full-time faculty search process.