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Race, Inequality and Social Change (RISC)

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Race, Inequality, and Social Change (RISC)

Mission Statement and Background

The proposed program in Race, Inequality and Social Change (RISC):

  • Interrogates issues of power, ideology, and the perpetuation of inequity while working to promote conscious and inclusive communities.
  • Engages students in analytical and scientific inquiry by exploring interdisciplinary and emergent “ways of knowing” and fostering experiential and immersion opportunities.
  • Seeks an understanding of and commitment to “the public good” as centrally informed by racial, ethnic, and cultural inequalities.
  • Integrates campus by building, sustaining, and further connecting communities of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to race and inequalities work.
  • Informed by DU’s unique relationship to the significant disparities impacting our local communities and the need for our university to address these inequalities in innovative and transparent ways.

Background and Goals

This proposed program emerges out of sustained conversation among students, faculty, and staff over the last several years about the lack of a race and ethnic studies program at DU. The absence of this program was concerning for several reasons, among those where DU's reputation as a majority White elite institution, its inconsistent and sometimes troubled relationship with Denver and Colorado's communities and students, faculty, and staff of color, and DU's stated, but uneven commitment to Inclusive Excellence. Though DU has undoubtedly made notable efforts to address such concerns, DU's failure to have a robust race and ethnic studies program and curriculum reflected critical gaps in the University's mission and commitment to disseminate and create knowledge in a rapidly changing and often unequal world. Critically, this is world where DU draws its students who are then expected to transform themselves and their communities for the "public good."

Beginning in Winter Quarter 2015, the Associate Provost of Inclusive Excellence appointed a working-group of faculty, students, and staff to explore existing and potential opportunities to further embed Inclusive Excellence into the academic experience at DU. The contours of the proposed program that you see here is but one part of a larger effort to transform and make more inclusive the academic experience of DU under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

RISC works under the auspices of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and its Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (In)Equality (IRISE) to partner with academic units towards the goal of enhancing the DU curriculum around issues of power, ideology, and the perpetuation of inequity. These goals fit with IRISE’s larger goal of establishing needed intellectual structures for students and faculty that will,

  1. facilitate the interdisciplinary teaching and learning, collaboration, research, scholarship, and creative works that seek to promote equality in historically underrepresented communities, and 
  2. develop, support, and implement academic programs and activities that seek to promote the advancement of historically underrepresented populations in the Academy.