U-M joins National Academies in collaborative on sexual harassment


The University of Michigan has joined the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine as founding partners in an action collaborative working to prevent sexual harassment in higher education.

The collaborative will facilitate partnerships and joint action to address and prevent sexual harassment. It will deal with the issue of sexual harassment in the context of other damaging behaviors including bullying, incivility and other forms of harassment that occur across all campus settings and at all levels of the institutional hierarchy.

Co-leading U-M’s efforts will be faculty members Fiona Lee and Sara Pozzi.

Lee is associate dean of diversity, equity, inclusion and professional development, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and professor of psychology at LSA; and associate professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Pozzi is professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, and director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Engineering; and professor of physics at LSA.

“We’re committed to creating a positive community where everyone’s contributions are valued and people are thriving,” said Lee. “Sexual harassment is completely detrimental to those values and has no place on campus. I’m pleased that U-M is embracing the importance of this national initiative and working with our colleagues across campus and the country to address this in a consistent and effective way.”

The action collaborative comes as a follow-up to a National Academies report and related discussion series on the climate of sexual harassment in academic sciences, engineering, and medicine in 2018. It will consist of working groups that will meet over the course of four years. Members will identify topics for the working groups and set the goals, activities, products and benchmarks for its work.

The National Academies will support and facilitate the work by holding regular meetings for members, organizing and holding public workshops to engage with the broader community, and identifying experts and evidence-based research to inform and advance the work of the action collaborative.

“We are excited about the important work that will be done in the framework of this action collaborative,” said Pozzi. “The work will include raising awareness of all the nuances of sexual harassment, including more subtle forms such as gender harassment, and coming up with solutions to these important issues. As a result, our campus will become a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.”

The collaborative’s four goals are:

• Raise awareness about sexual harassment and how it occurs, the consequences of sexual harassment, and the organizational characteristics and recommended approaches that can prevent it.

• Share and elevate evidence-based institutional policies and strategies to reduce and prevent sexual harassment.

• Contribute to setting the research agenda, and gather and apply research results across institutions.

• Develop a standard for measuring progress toward reducing and preventing sexual harassment in higher education.

These goals align with U-M’s commitment to fostering an environment where all members of the campus community are safe and feel respected.

Last fall, the university launched a centralized website devoted to sexual misconduct reporting, prevention and education that is easily accessible by all members the U-M community. The website is prominently linked to from the U-M Gateway and other major university pages. It includes a video message from university leaders.

Comprehensive sexual misconduct training and education will now be required for all faculty and staff, which is approximately 48,000 people.

President Mark Schlissel also commissioned an outside expert to review U-M sexual misconduct policies and make any necessary recommendations. The work is ongoing.


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