Twenty-two members from the University of Michigan’s three campuses have joined the Framing and Design Committee of the Inclusive History Project, a multifaceted, years-long project to study, document and better understand the university’s history with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.
The committee will spend the rest of the 2022-23 academic year charting the course of the project, while conducting comprehensive, thoughtful historical analyses and engaging communities across and beyond the university.
“I believe strongly in the Inclusive History Project and what it can tell us about our university and ourselves,” President Santa J. Ono said. “This presidential initiative aims to create a more accurate narrative about the university, with an initial focus on race and racism.”
Ono is charging the Framing and Design Committee with mapping the scope and subsequent phasing of the Inclusive History Project, while working in close partnership with the Bentley Historical Library to commission the necessary historical and benchmarking analyses.
Now that the group has formed, the committee’s work will be intentionally independent of the university administration.
The group will create a process for broad community outreach and engagement, including deep engagement with internal and extended external communities to develop a fuller understanding of the university’s past and the contemporary effects of the university’s history.
“This is a dynamic group that consists of U-M faculty, staff and students,” said Earl Lewis, Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor of History, Afroamerican and African Studies and Public Policy. “I’m confident the group’s broad range of perspectives and expertise will help move the project forward.”
Lewis, who also is a professor of history and of Afroamerican and African studies in LSA, professor of public policy in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and director of the Center for Social Solutions, co-chairs the committee with Elizabeth Cole, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, professor of psychology, of women’s and gender studies, and of Afroamerican and African studies in LSA.
The group also will identify leadership and an organizational structure for carrying out the next phases of the project that will focus on developing recommendations for action in the future.
“This is an opportunity to study U-M’s collective history, which affects every one of us,” said Cole, who also is director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity at U-M. “This project is a brave and important effort to help us better understand all of our lived experiences.”
The range of possible outcomes of the project may include:
- Developing new scholarship, research and courses.
- New expressions of a more inclusive and accurate institutional narrative, such as exhibits, campus tours, websites, updated ceremonies and other forms of institutional storytelling.
- New and revitalized community relationships and partnerships.
- Changes in the university’s institutional landscape and physical environments, such as new kinds of monuments and public art.
- New and revised building and space names.
- New institutional programs and policies that address the contemporary effects of historical and systemic racism and other forms of discrimination and exclusion on the U-M community, including but not limited to actions as permitted by law in areas such as admissions, financial aid, and faculty and staff hiring, promotion and compensation.
- Other tangible ideas that may emerge from a thoughtful and engaged process.
To solicit thoughts and ideas about the Inclusive History Project, the co-chairs are asking for feedback from the public. The information collected from the feedback form will help plan, shape and inform the Framing and Design Committee’s work this semester and beyond.
“This is the first of many opportunities for the committee to engage the broader community,” said Jennifer Brady, senior project manager for the Inclusive History Project.
In her role, Brady provides administrative coordination and leadership for the project and shares oversight and responsibility, with the co-chairs, for all administrative, operational and financial matters related to the project.
Prior to this role, Brady led projects that were part of the College and Beyond II: Outcomes of a Liberal Arts Education research study at U-M. Before that, she spent several years as a lecturer and associate director of the History & Literature program at Harvard University.