Department of Classical Studies
Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We, the faculty, students and staff of the Department of Classical Studies, endorse the commitment of the University of Michigan and the College of Literature, Arts and Sciences to diversity, equity and inclusion. We share the view that “it is central to our mission as an educational institution to ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive in our environment, for we believe that diversity is key to individual flourishing, educational excellence and the advancement of knowledge.”
We firmly believe that the study of Greek and Roman culture, including languages, literature, history and material culture, should be accessible and open to people of all backgrounds, both within academia and in the public sphere. We endorse an approach to Greece and Rome that acknowledges their interconnectedness with a variety of cultures from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa and beyond, and consider the explorations of those connections across time and space as central to our mission.
We emphasize that we, as scholars of Classical Studies and Modern Greek, engage in the critical interrogation of the ways that the classical past has been mobilized by the present in both positive and negative ways. We pledge to accelerate our efforts to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive community both within our profession and beyond.
Here is a description of some of our current initiatives. Many of these activities have been organized by our standing DEI Committee that consists of faculty and graduate students.
- DEI Community Discussions: A series of community discussions between faculty and graduate students on issues related to DEI. Our first discussion took place on October 7, 2020 and was attended by 37 faculty and graduate students.
- Service Days: A series of service activities supporting DEI in the wider community. Our first service event was a Walkathon in September 2020 which raised more than $3800 for a local food pantry and other charities.
- We implemented the first fully-funded Classical Studies Bridge MA Program. This one-year (three-semester program) provides promising students from non-traditional socio-economic backgrounds, ethnically diverse cultures, or first-generation college students in Classical Studies an extra year to develop research and language skills in Greek and Latin before starting a PhD. Admitted students transition to the PhD program with full funding, if they complete the program successfully.
- We collaborated with the Onassis Foundation to establish the Onassis Distinguished Diversity Scholarships providing additional funding for our Bridge MA students. These funds are available for curricular enrichment, particularly through study abroad, including language programs and archaeology projects, as well as internship opportunities.
- We are part of the Mellon-Rackham Michigan Emerging Research Scholars Program that brings non-traditional undergraduate students to campus for two weeks during the summer to pursue their research interests under the guidance of our faculty, and to learn about the opportunities for further study at Michigan.
- Our faculty participate in transformative teaching outside the university. They are instructors in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. They visit under-resourced high schools and promote higher education by sharing their academic and career journeys on the Wolverine Express. They have taught in the Warrior Scholars Program, a two-week intensive summer program that seeks to provide veterans with the skills to succeed in college. On our annual Copley Latin Day, we welcome high school students from Ann Arbor and Detroit, who explore all that the department has to offer.
- We have organized an exciting series of MLK Day Events open to the general public that engaged with issues of DEI. Most recently, a local theater group, the Brown and Black Theater of Detroit, performed excerpts from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, highlighting the theme of identity. A lively community discussion followed.
- The graduate students have organized Classical Intersectionality Reading Group, funded by the graduate school, on the topic of intersectionality and particularly the challenges of teaching in a way that is sensitive and inclusive to the many intersecting identities of the student population. Funding for the reading group has recently been renewed for a second year.
- We have held a number of Teaching Workshops in collaboration with the Center for Learning and Teaching on themes relevant to DEI, including inclusive teaching, managing difficult moments in the classroom and the ways that Classical Studies courses can be revised to engage a diverse undergraduate population.
- We received a Rackham Diversity Ally Grant in 2019 to expand on our DEI efforts targeting the graduate program. This grant will fund a series of community lunches for the entire department organized around diversity-related themes. It will also fund peer-to-peer and faculty-student mentoring and tutoring in the languages, among other initiatives.
- We have gathered data on how our faculty and graduate students are accommodating students with disabilities in our courses order to better serve this population.