ADDI Update – November 2020

Dear Friedman Community,

I hope everyone is doing well as we near the end of the semester. In the past month, the process of integrating the action plan activities into the fabric of the School has continued. There has also been a lot going on at the university level.  Updates:

  • Fostering a Culture
    • SJID sponsored two book discussion sessions of How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi, which were held on Thursday 19 November at noon and 7 PM. The event sparked meaningful discussion on several key concepts from the book and concluded with thoughts about how they apply to us professionally and personally. Many thanks to Annie DeVane for leading this and to the rest of the subcommittee (Ellen-Marie Bransfield, Emma Groves Baldacci, and Sarah Laves) for such thoughtful organization of the event. 
    • SJID is also working on the Bridging Differences Dialogue Series, to take place in February 2021. 
    • The university-wide mandatory anti-racism training is in the final stages of the approval process.  
  • Recruitment and Retention of Students 
    • At Friedman, to increase diversity in the master’s programs, the focus is on the three priority actions below. As these will likely be stronger if implemented, coordinated, and advertised together by multiple master’s programs across Tufts, the Office of Student Affairs is currently working toward connecting with other schools regarding these initiatives. 
      • Permanently waiving the GRE (announced earlier this year)
      • Expanding the Service Scholars program. This program creates institutional relationships with and provides matching scholarships for applicants from service programs including AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, City Year, and the U.S. military. It also creates leadership activities at the School following student enrolment. 
      • Building strong relationships and potential pipeline programs with historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions. It will be especially useful to coordinate with other schools at Tufts to create and expand on these relationships. 
  • Coursework and Learning Environment
    • The Friedman Speaker Series, led by Jiantao Ma and Chris Peters, has developed a plan to increase Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) speakers. In addition to collecting suggestions for speakers from the general Friedman community, they will consult SJID and the Student Alliance for Social Justice and Racial Equity. They will also work toward increasing efforts to invite and promote the Speaker Series to the surrounding community. This may include engaging with the wider Chinatown community and BIPOC-serving community groups and exploring how the Speaker Series can serve as a platform to elevate voices from the BIPOC community.
    • I will be offering a non-credit journal club course in Spring 2021, Nutrition and Racial Inequities. It will take a multidisciplinary lens and is appropriate for students from any program. Faculty and staff are also welcome to participate.  
    • Four students (Janna Adkins, Amanda Dell, Rachel Frankenfield, and Beth Williams) are completing a fall directed study titled “Understanding Social Change through Theory and Practice” with Nicole Blackstone as the faculty leader. The students learned theories, tactics, and skills necessary to build community and mobilize citizens to change minds and policies. Many concepts in the course are applicable to Friedman’s teachings and will enrich the personal and professional lives of both faculty and staff by highlighting the importance of social justice in every aspect of the food system. The directed study may serve as a template for the development of a permanent course rooted in justice. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend a virtual lunch and learn on December 11th from 12:15pm-1:15pm to learn about this directed study. Zoom link:​.
    • Funding for equity-focused internships will be one of the challenges for Friedman for Giving Tuesday this year (tomorrow!). 
  • University-Level Activities
    • Dean Mozaffarian has joined the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, which guides the university’s strategy and policies to advance diversity and inclusion among the student body, faculty, and staff to make the university more inclusive and welcoming to all.
    • There are five workstreams currently working at the university level as part of the Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution strategic initiative. All workstreams have been highly active this Fall and will present recommendations by the end of the year, and these will be converged into an implementation plan. 
      • Krissy Day is serving on the Institutional Audit and Targeted Actions workstream, which is working to identify where structural racism may exist within processes, policies, programs and procedures across all schools and units of the University through a broad audit, focus groups, and interviews; learn what anti-racism-related actions and efforts are already underway; and recommend prioritized targeted actions to remove any structural racism and include ongoing accountability across Tufts.
      • Nirupa Matthan is serving on the Compositional Diversity workstream, whose charge is to present data gathered in 4 areas (faculty, staff, students, and administration) on Tufts’ current compositional diversity along with historical data and context; and identify key areas at which efforts are achievable improvement should be focused and suggest strategies for that improvement.
      • I am currently chairing a subcommittee on graduate and professionals students for the workstream on Equity and Inclusion. The workstream is focusing on curricula and ensuring that issues of equity and inclusion are addressed in classrooms and all non- classroom learning spaces and throughout the Tufts community. Our subcommittee has been considering curricular changes that we would like to see across schools. We’ve had consensus on the need for courses on the history of racism that are tailored to the disciplines of each school. We’ve also discussed the need for professional development in this area for grad and professional students, especially since they will be taking on leadership roles in their careers. 
  • Other News
    • New Entry Sustainable Farming Project has formed new partnerships with Building Audacity in Lynn and with the Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative. They are also sponsoring six participants from the Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative to attend their Farm Business Planning Course.

I hope everyone stays healthy and safe. 

Sara C. Folta, PhD
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion 

EVENTS: Tufts University announces the upcoming webinar, Voices from Chinatown: Resilience in the time of COVID-19 and Anti-Asian Racism. Slated for Friday, December 4 from 12:00-1:00pm (EST), this conversation will bring together community leaders, residents, and Tufts University faculty that work closely with our Chinatown neighbors to discuss their experiences navigating anti-Asian racism and how the community is pursuing resilience, survival, and dignity in this era of COVID-19. We hope that you will join us! Please register for the event here.

New Entry event — Connected Futures: Panel on Building Equity from Farm to Fork on Sunday 6 December from 7-9 PM. Join farmers from New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Kareal Amenumey from Tufts Food Rescue, Professor & Farmer Training Manager Kevin Cody, and Nakia Navarro, the CEO of Building Audacity for a panel on building equity throughout food systems. The conversation will be surrounding historical and existing injustices within the food system. Topics will include Black land loss in Massachusetts, the difficulty sourcing culturally preferred foods, and Black and Indigenous food geographies.

Tufts CTSI is hosting a webinar, Taking Responsibility for Building a Trustworthy Research Enterpriseon Wednesday 9 December from 12-1 PM. It will focus on looking at the history of malfeasance in research including up to the present day. It will explore how mistrust of research is mediated through historical and generational trauma and how it impacts present day perceptions of research. There will then be discussion on how to flip the narrative around mistrust of research as a “barrier” to focus on what researchers can do to become more trustworthy. It will conclude with a focus on specific steps you can take to bring awareness to your labs and study teams to engage in anti-racism and anti-oppression in your work. 

A new round of the Unpacking Whiteness Dialogue Program will be launched in the spring. Registration isn’t open yet, but keep an eye out for announcements. Several members of the Friedman community have participated and have found it to be a meaningful and impactful experience. 

RESOURCES: Research funding opportunities focused on structural racism, diversity, and equity (compiled by the Research Administration team):

Video recording of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi in a discussion about antiracism in higher education: