Excellence in arts and humanities research and creative activity requires recruiting, hiring, and retaining the very best faculty from traditionally under-represented groups. To do this effectively, we have structured our priorities in areas that demonstrate a commitment to live out the values of diversity in our curriculum, research programs, and creative activities. Specifically, by focusing on engaged scholarship, including culturally engaged digital humanities, we will position ourselves to recruit and retain top faculty from traditionally under-represented groups.
Over the last several years, the digital humanities community has wrestled with issues of inclusion and diversity among DH scholars. These issues have centered around questions of usability, accessibility, and how best to engage communities of cultural stakeholders whose artifacts, values, and practices are the focus of digital humanities inquiry. We in the College have worked collaboratively with the Departments of History and Anthropology in the College of Social Sciences and the University Libraries to create the institutional infrastructure in graduate and undergraduate curriculum and the world-class research centers (Matrix, LEADR, WIDE) to lead the way in culturally engaged digital humanities, a vision of DH research that addresses the above mentioned international challenges faced by the DH community.
A cluster hire in culturally engaged digital humanities that focuses on humanities questions of race, inclusion, cultural preservation, global interconnectedness, and engaged scholarship would establish Michigan State University as an international leader in digital humanities research and scholarship, position us on the leading edge of an emerging strength in the CIC, increase our capacity to compete successfully for prestigious grants and fellowships, and enable us to recruit the very best of a new generation of diverse and innovative scholars.
In order to attract excellent and innovative young faculty members and graduate students from diverse backgrounds, the College will establish an Engaged Scholarship Post-Doctoral Fellowship program designed to attract traditionally under-represented MFAs and PhDs in the arts and humanities across four priority areas: culturally engaged digital humanities; engaged scholarship in an interconnected world; integrated design; and media arts. This will enable us to recruit excellent young faculty members into the College and create a rich pool of prospective future faculty hires. On the graduate level, we have combined resources from the College and Provost’s Office to establish the CAL Top Recruit Program designed to attract the best graduate students in the world to MSU and to practice inclusion as a matter of habit. This program provides resources that can be flexibly and strategically deployed to position units to match or exceed the financial terms of any competitive offer for our very best students.
Attracting traditionally under-represented faculty and graduate students to Michigan State University, however, is only one aspect of an integrated set of institutional challenges to create a culture of inclusion and excellence in the College and at the University. In order to ensure that our new and continuing faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from under-represented groups are supported and successful, we must develop a robust and sustained Inclusion Initiative. This initiative, led by our Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, will involve three dimensions: 1) developing more diverse curriculum and co-curricular activities across the College, drawing on our four College priorities; 2) investing in integrated structures of support and mentoring for under-represented faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates; 3) partnering with units across the university, including the Office of Faculty and Organizational Development, to take the lead in educating the university community about the complex and pernicious mechanisms of institutional prejudice.
If the university intends to embody the core value of inclusiveness, we must invest resources and articulate priorities at all levels of the academic mission—from the curriculum, to the faculty, to the culture—that reinforce our commitment to the reality that there is no excellence without diversity. This portion of the College plan fleshes out our deep commitment to diversity in three specific ways: first, through our academic focus on culturally engaged digital humanities, second, through our plan to attract more diverse young faculty and graduate students, and third, through our inclusion initiative designed support the success of our diverse faculty and graduate students. Creating a culture of inclusion is tightly tied to our broader strategies to expand, enhance, and elevate scholarship.