Date: August 6, 2021
From Dean Jackson:
During the last academic year, I participated in a symposium for racial reconciliation with the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. The title of the symposium was “Becoming Anti-Racist and Catalysts for Change.” The highlight was a series of virtual sessions with colleagues from more than 20 seminaries and universities. The series shared stories of the efforts the represented institutions are undertaking to address racism. With guidance from the Wabash facilitators, and in consideration of best practices, each symposium participant was encouraged to consider a project that would lead to making lasting change within their own contexts.
I am pleased to announce that I have been awarded a grant from Wabash to implement a project at the School of Theology. I am calling this project “Words for G.R.A.C.E.—Growing in Racial and Cultural Engagement” and the work to be done will involve the entire seminary community in becoming anti-racist and catalysts for change.
“Words for G.R.A.C.E.” is structured on the importance of building a foundational language in order to have meaningful conversations about race. During the upcoming academic year, faculty, staff, and students will engage in study of six critical terms, discussing and unpacking one term at a time through a series of community forums and events to be held during the year. Together we will study definitions, but perhaps more importantly, we will learn the impact of the attitudes and behaviors that accompany each term. It will be a new thing for us to have regular, intentional discussions about creating an “anti-racist” environment.
Faculty, staff, and students will be enlisted to share in the leadership of guiding our seminary community to growth in racial and cultural understanding. The goal of this project is to create space for frequent and open conversations about race, build a common lexicon, and become better equipped to recognize and respond with antiracist intentionality in our teaching and learning.
The project will begin Sept. 1, 2021, and end April 30, 2022. The six terms to be explored are:
- White privilege
- Cultural appropriation
- Internalized oppression