UBC Political Science Head’s Letter on Racism and Diversity

Dear UBC Political Science Community:

Widespread protests against racism and police brutality in the United States, Canada, and beyond have focused the world’s attention on addressing the deep, structural forms of racism and oppression that continue to shape our societies and institutions. I know that current events personally and deeply affect many members of our community. In the UBC Political Science Department, we have been asking ourselves how we, as an academic unit and as political scientists, can do more to combat racism and foster a more inclusive and just society. We believe that in addition to the individual actions any of us may take, a most important role that we can play as an institution is to critically examine our own activities as a Department — our teaching, our hiring and admissions practices, our engagement with the broader world — and to take concrete steps to further advance the goals of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all of our undertakings. While we have taken some steps in recent years to create a more diverse faculty and a more inclusive learning environment, we know that we must do much more.

On the advice of the Department’s Executive Committee, I am therefore committing the Department to a sustained process of reflection and action to promote the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all that we do. I am striking an Equity and Diversity Committee (EDC) that will be empowered to drive this agenda forward and bring a set of concrete action recommendations to the Department for decision in the coming months. The EDC will consult broadly with the Department’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni as it examines structural biases in our own operations, gathers policy models and best practices for promoting diversity and inclusion in academia, and draws up an Equity and Diversity Action Plan for the Department.

The EDC will be charged with developing strategies in at least 9 key areas:

  • Departmental hiring, mentoring, and tenure-and-promotion practices that foster the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, building upon the previous work that produced the Department’s Diversity and Equity in Hiring policy which has guided our hiring practices since 2016
  • Support for racialized and Indigenous faculty in the work that they regularly do, often without recognition, to advance equity on and off our campus
  • Graduate admissions practices that further diversity in our graduate student body
  • Open and inclusive learning environments for undergraduate and graduate students
  • The inclusion of more diverse voices into our course offerings, course syllabi, and speaker events
  • The expanded treatment of matters of racialization, racism, Indigeneity and settler colonialism, and diversity in our undergraduate and graduate course content, building upon the previous Department survey assessing Indigenous engagement in our curriculum and subsequent efforts towards next steps
  • Proactive engagement with partners–including other UBC units and offices, policymakers, the media, community partners, and NGOs–on ways in which we can contribute to initiatives for equity and inclusion beyond our department.
  • Departmental governance structures that ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are central considerations across all of our activities on an ongoing basis

For these efforts to bear fruit, it will be critical for us to listen closely to the perspectives of those students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have experienced racism, bias, or exclusion within our community. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me as Head of the Department, and/or the Committee once its members are announced, to share your experiences, voice any concerns, or share any ideas and opportunities. I hope that all who wish to contribute to the creation of a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse UBC Political Science Department will join us in this process.

Richard Price
Professor and Head of Department