Equity, Diversity, Justice, Inclusion Task Force, Catawba College

Catawba College

Project Overview

The Equity, Diversity, Justice, and Inclusion (EDJI) Task Force at Catawba College aims to build a campus community where all members thrive by working to cultivate critical conversations and practices that close opportunity gaps and promote equity, diversity, justice, and inclusion on our campus and in the larger community.

Key attributes of the Catawba mission are supported by the sentiments of Transformation, Inspiration and Belonging. In order to ensure that these elements are consistently imbued across college operations, the following Task Force terms are further delineated:

Equity: An authentic concern for fairness and accessibility among our students, staff, faculty and community that moves to ensure the removal of systemic barriers in place at our institution

Diversity: The collection of similarities and distinctions within our community that includes, but is not limited to cultural values, beliefs, and lived experiences that contribute to our perceptions of the world

Justice: The peaceful, considerate, and empathic treatment of human beings from all backgrounds and perspectives; true justice must also extend to the non-human elements within our community

Inclusion: A sincere sense of belonging, respect, and appreciation so all members of Catawba feel able and welcome to participate fully in the College living-learning-working environment

Central to the work of this Task Force is the assurance that the College approach to Equity, Diversity, Justice and Inclusion – and the resulting experience of this work – is felt across all levels promoting Catawba’s distinguished goals of Scholarship, Character, Culture and Service. Catawba will create and adhere to best practices within the realms of racial, ethnic, economic, gender, and abled diversity. This includes the elimination of practices reflective of racism, classism, xenophobia/nativism, patriarchy, colorism, ageism, and sexism so as to purposefully invest in – and be attentive to – the historically and presently disenfranchised. The 21st century’s contemporary society is fraught with old wounds that have been both advertently and inadvertently neglected. This disregard and perpetuation of systemic oppression has created a crisis of humanity, which we have all witnessed and/or experienced to some degree. The traumas of histories and herstories past have steeped and compounded. Exclusion and disunion, in particular, remain endemic in our socio-political systems. There is a necessary healing that is needed to dispel the persistence of bigotry, bias and misappropriated privilege. Catawba College is willing and commended for taking these initial and purposeful, yet challenging, steps to undo these societal wrongs.

This Task Force must do the necessary work of dismantling such discrimination and intolerance where they exist, hence a core focus on interchange and allyship, advocacy and relationships, structural and resource support, educational collaborations, cultural aptitude, and mechanisms for accountability will be necessary in order to ensure effective pathways forward for Catawba College on its EDJI initiatives. The intentionality with which this group will operate will stem from the principles of supportive solidarity. This will require an empathic understanding of the complex ways in which individuals interact with systems and institutions and will provide a strong voice for Catawba’s more underserved students, faculty and staff helping to build cultural cohesion, alongside a commitment to transition from power usurped to power instilled.

The Task Force, though possibly encountering tensions and discomforts throughout the process, will assess institutional practices, foster difficult dialogues, and become a platform for recommending actionable steps to advance a culture of belonging and empowerment. Institutions of higher education are familiar with critical thinking, but as societal forces and systemic cruelties persist, the level of critical thought necessary to change the cultural landscape that has been built around inequity must advance so that the messages communicated and praxis implemented become more inclusive. When critical thinking and inclusivity merge, creativity is enhanced and the ability to generate more and better ideas for a solution-focused future results. Catawba stands firm in supportive action with People of Color and in accord with the social movements of our time including (but not limited to): Black Lives Matter, Brown Lives Matter, Fridays for the Future, March for Our Lives, United We Dream, and Wage Equality; all in the spirit of civil disobedience and nonviolent communication, to ensure that the rights of African Americans, Asian Americans, Indigenous First Nations, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ communities are suffused with integral care at Catawba and with those with which the College engages.

Background

In Summer 2020 Catawba College established the Equity, Diversity, Justice and Inclusion (EDJI) Task Force. Drawing upon the mission statement of the College, the Task Force will ensure that all students, employees, and individuals engaged with Catawba participate in college culture with the zeal to enrich all human life in equal standing, and with honest aspirations to move the social equity, diversity, justice and inclusion agenda forward in practical and meaningful ways.

The inclusive leadership of the Task Force will operate in a manner that complements, collaborates and strengthens new and ongoing efforts for continual improvement. Catawba is readily able to lend its creative and critical capacities in a steadfast way to the important social, ecological and economic challenges that comprise EDJI work. Such challenges are embedded within sustainability and the Task Force aims to help propel this moment of change in time into a movement of social transformation by doing our finest work at Catawba College in a more formalized way, guaranteeing that there be no separation between the practice of our personal and professional value systems.

The Task Force has framed itself to proceed in an intersectional, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, interracial, interethnic, intercultural, interfaith, and international manner finding more synergy and connection across these categorizations than separation. An overarching purpose of the Task Force is to understand how we faculty, staff and students at Catawba, can actively influence the social change needed to make an impactful difference in our world, recognizing that this work must begin within our minds and be reflected in our behaviors throughout these institutional office spaces and classrooms.

Goals

The senior leadership of Catawba College has shown a strong commitment to the design and implementation of the EDJI Task Force. This committed approach will give the Task Force the opportunity to incorporate institutional, academic, and community outreach components and allow it to function as a think-action tank within the College. The co-chairs collectively believe that the formation of this group is only the first step in a long process of transformative change. The co-chairs requested that the EDJI Task Force have a space of shared governance with purpose and function for true change and asked to report directly to the Office of the President. This request is centered on the ability of the Task Force to maintain a level of sovereignty in order to most efficiently affect tangible and intentional change through essential interventions intended to strengthen, enhance, and support shifting to an equity-minded culture at Catawba. This request was approved by the Office of the President.

The Task Force undoubtedly intends to discuss any and all initiatives with the Cabinet as well as pertinent departments and existing committees. EDJI is open to concerns, contributions and strategies for achieving actionable goals across the College. The Task Force will meet regularly, will creatively gather and effectively interpret data on student and employee experiences, and take steps in order to develop ongoing actions and long-term plans that better align the school with the principles of social justice.

Please note that this is considered a living committee that will evolve as needed over the coming months. The preliminary goals listed herein will be further discussed, developed and detailed as the Task Force fully gets underway. Enclosed here is a simple synopsis of initial proposed actions reflective of the Institutional, Academic and Community goals aforementioned.

The Task Force will be sure there are opportunities to celebrate the milestones of excellence Catawba has made and makes along the way in this EDJI journey. EDJI remains open to receiving suggestions and feedback from the Catawba community at large. A timeline of Task Force events will be upkept regularly and notable updates will be shared with students, faculty and staff to encourage multidirectional communication across the College.

Institutional

  • The initial term of the Task Force will be for 18 months (beginning August 2020) with a transitional plan to create a permanent and staffed position housed within an appropriately-created Office of Equity, Diversity, Justice, and Inclusion at Catawba.
  • Clearly establish the Task Force and its membership to the student, staff and faculty body as a resource of supportive solidarity with open doors of communication with key individuals willing to become point-persons for the Catawba community.
  • Instill a sentiment of togetherness and unity across the different initiatives and events taking place a Catawba related to EDJI, so that work is not siloed, but rather shared in humble and exciting ways.
  • Design an EDJI logo for the College so that there is a visual symbol for related actions taken by the College. During spring 2021, an EDJI logo was designed. We would like to begin to print promo materials, including non-toxic stickers, biodegradable pens, recycled paper journals, small button pins, bamboo tee-shirts, etc. that can enhance EDJI’s image well, and spread the word of its existence and active allyship.
  • Develop a formal statement of EDJI for Catawba College to publicly share a clear and explicit commitment to a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just organizational culture.
  • Identify preferred language and defining terms needed for internal Catawba policies and external marketing and promotional materials.
  • Review College policies and recommend best practices for interacting with students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds. This includes policies affiliated with teaching, research, service, admissions/recruitment, hiring and retention, institutional advancement, and overall school culture.
  • Continually review literature and other research to make certain that Catawba College remains on the innovative cusp of nationwide and global EDJI initiatives for higher education.
  • Provide twice yearly required professional development opportunities related to EDJI for faculty and staff that cultivate a culture of race consciousness. These may take the form of Courageous Colloquia, Actionable Workshops and/or events related to EDJI initiatives hosted by other National Associations.
  • Facilitate the procedures necessary for an Equity Audit to take place at the College so as to ascertain structural biases and embedded discriminations (albethey inadvertent).
  • Initiate a 360 evaluation process of administrative bodies at Catawba ensuring a voice for Empathic Exchange for improved EDJI approaches; include on-campus work study experiences so as to ensure alignment with EDJI as well.
  • Identify an ideal place of prominence on campus and design a mural project as a visual representation of Catawba’s ongoing commitment to EDJI.
  • Collaborate with the Equity Literacy Institute, the Racial Equity Institute of NC, and the Diversity, Equity Inclusion Committee of the Athletic Trainers’ Association (and others) to foster EDJI trainings for College employees.
  • Ensure that the offices of Health Services – both physical and mental – have diverse representation so as to ensure comfort and relevance for the diverse student body.
  • Establish strong relationships and opportunities for intellectual dialogue with the Student Government Association, Student Affairs, and Student Clubs interested in participating directly with enhancing EDJI at Catawba.
  • Deliver Restorative and Regenerative Recommendation reports to the Office of the President as pertinent.
  • EDJI Conference - EDJI intends to organize a conference, hosted on campus, that showcases and draws upon the good progress of Catawba since the creation of the Task Force. There will be emphasis on each of the three focal categories within EDJI: Institutional, Community and Academic. The Conference will take place in May 2022 and planning for the conference will need to begin in October 2021. Presenters will a blend of students, faculty, staff and community partners. The conference will have traditional elements, such as plenary sessions with keynotes; socio-ecologically responsible swag giveaways, presentations, panels, workshops, and posters as concurrent sessions; meals, intellectual interludes, participant incentives will also be included. The conference will serve as a source of professional development for the Catawba community at large. Attendees will receive a Participate Passport linked to the conference program, which highlights the sessions attended and will serve as their credential. The inaugural conference will be spring 2022 and will serve as the launch event for the forthcoming and well-staffed, Office of Equity, Diversity, Justice and Inclusion.

Likely Conference Sub-Themes:

  • Representation and Why It Matters
  • Fairness in Financial Aid
  • Creating an Anti-Racist Catawba
  • Active BIPOC Student Recruitment
  • Pedagogical and Curricular Changemakers
  • Inclusive Search and Hiring Practices
  • Achieving Systemic Equity
  • Diversity in Admissions
  • Intersectionality Across the Curriculum
  • Mentors and Mental Wellness
  • Authentic Access in Athletics
  • Ethical Endowments
  • Restorative and Regenerative Recommendations

Academic

  • Implement an annual Thoughtful Thinking Common Reader; In support of Catawba’s liberal arts education, EDJI hopes to host a college-wide common reader program. The vision is to offer a common reader, providing faculty with the chance to opt in with course(s) at least one semester each academic year. The author of the chosen book would be invited to campus for a community plenary as well as a student-focused, more intimate event for those whose classes participated in the program. These students would gain further insights and have time to speak directly with the author. A book signing would also be built in to this event.
  • BIPOC&O Interdisciplinary Lunch and Learn – The vision for this speaker series is that it will focus on one department/school of Catawba each month of the academic year. A range of speakers (could be from the local community, the triangle area, or the national/international sphere) will bring a Black, Indigenous, Person Of Color and Orientational lens to the discipline chosen for that month. (i.e., November could be Psychology and we would have a BIPOC&O-representing individual, speaking with a focus on that discipline and a pertinent issue of interest.) EDJI would like to provide a light lunch for participants, in addition to a modest speaker honorarium. We would like to record these events and video-edit accordingly to extract pertinent clips for placement on the EDJI website (which has gone live, but is still under construction). We hope to provide paid opportunities for students who help with the video recording and edits.
  • Review the current academic catalog identifying courses that satisfy an EDJI attribute. Create a Catawba Competency in EDJI, marking such coursework reflective of equity-minded teaching and principled inclusivity. Create new coursework as needed in order to infuse EDJI across the curriculum.
  • Add an EDJI component to the Faculty Professional Activities Report (FPAR).
  • Assist with the Sustainability in Society eco-lunch webinar series hosted by the Environment and Sustainability Department commencing in September 2020.
  • Partner with WigWam and The School of Performing Arts to bring a Conscientious Concert music festival to Catawba with artists especially attuned to EDJI lyrics, visuals and community action efforts with the aim to eventually create a Center for Music and Social Justice, such as the Nina Simone Center proposed by the Department of Music faculty. EDJI hopes to host this event as part of the homecoming festivities. Alumni, such as Destiny Stone and Dustin Chapman, would be invited to perform, as would current students who support equity and inclusion in their art. EDJI aims to highlight cultural inclusivity at this event so that diversities, such as those musical and culinary, can inspire unity and community cohesion. Alongside the pursuit of the ideal location on campus, distinct vendors will be sought, and likely one more well-known musician, whose music connects heavily to EDJI themes, would be invited to perform as the main event. Possible external performers include Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Rising Appalachia, Lyla June, Nahko Bear, Prince Ea, among others.
  • Partner with the Lily Center to enhance interdisciplinary service-learning and civic engagement opportunities for students across varied departments; encourage more faculty to embed such experiential education in their coursework.
  • Develop space for Deliberate Dialogue, Deep Discourse, and Critical Conversations so as to ensure that students of color and those underrepresented – across the disciplines and activities of the College – are able to engage in some capacity with supportive avenues for communication and action.
  • Compile a key works compendium – both physically and virtually – in the library for student, faculty and staff use as a prominent collection of EDJI resources. Create a link to this collection in CatLink.
  • Work with the Theatre and Popular Music Departments to consider opportunities to showcase EDJI-related performances.
  • Offer formal opportunities for an engaged, culturally responsive, socially responsible, and equitable place to learn-work-live through purposeful First Year Seminars.
  • Develop a Senior Year Experience that provides students with an opportunity to formally assess the EDJI competencies they have acquired from their Catawba College education.
  • Creatively foster the success of the scholarship opportunities for underrepresented students, such as the Unanue Scholarship for the Latinx Community youth, the 1966 Society, and others as they emerge.
  • Film Screenings and Author Talks – EDJI recognizes the importance of educational film screenings on topics relevant to Social Justice, and contemporary authors promoting agency and change with their work. We would like to have two or three students at a time moderating and leading these screenings and talks. Ideally, the students will include representation from neighboring institutions. Film possibilities include: Belly of the Beast, The Voice of the Gualcarque, I am Not Your Negro, Flow; Author talks could include the books: We are Called to Be a Movement by William J. Barber, Finding Latinx by Paola Ramos, The Value of Nothing by Raj Patel, All We Can Save by Ayana E. Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, and Slow Violence by Rob Nixon, to name a few possible films and books.
  • EDJI Pedagogical Competence – EDJI sees the value in creating a Catawba Competency centered on coursework that is reflective of equity-minded teaching and principled inclusivity. Any such existing courses would be marked appropriately in the catalog. In order to begin this process, however, a thorough review of the current academic catalog is required. EDJI would like to host a Summer Retreat for faculty members interested in this. By hosting a retreat, EDJI would be encouraging faculty to help in the identification of said courses and could provide the faculty with a small stipend for their work. EDJI is aware that new coursework will also need to be generated. In order to pique faculty’s interest in designing new EDJI-related courses, a distinct stipend would be provided to participants. Linking an EDJI competency to our General Education pool of attributes is something EDJI is presently exploring. Such a competency initiative can begin to infuse EDJI themes across the curriculum.

Community

  • Facilitate monthly Listening and Learning focus groups devoted to hearing the experiences of those in our community, providing opportunities for feedback and open, honest, reflective communication in a safe way.
  • Form a strong partnership with the Catawba Black Alumni Network (CBAN) and propose, plan and put on events relevant to the past and current community of Catawba.
  • Work with the website design team to craft a place for EDJI initiatives to be showcased publicly on the Catawba public-facing page.
  • Initiate and/or re-engage in relationship with the Catawba First Nation, as the namesake to the institution, ensuring transparency, clarity and comfort with current imagery, language and related programming. This includes re-establishing the historic scholarship opportunities for the youth of the Catawba First Nation.
  • Create functional bridges with community organizations centered on social equity initiatives, such as the local chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign, NAACP, Happy Roots, Women for Justice, Center for Faith and the Arts, among others.
  • Collaborate with the Center for the Environment on speaker series, ensuring that EDJI narratives surrounding ecological conservation and leadership are fostered and promoted.
  • Explore pertinent social engagement opportunities with the broader academic community of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Livingstone College (an HBCU), and Hood Seminary with regard to EDJI-related events. Host speaking events in tandem and hold intercollegiate student panel discussions on issues of historical, cultural, ecological, political, etc. relevance to North Carolinians.
  • Collaborate closely with the innovative youth program, Girls on Outdoor Adventure for Leadership and Science (GALS), ensuring training as appropriate for Catawba faculty, staff, students and alumnx who may serve a staff and/or volunteer role in it. This program is housed in the Department of Environment and Sustainability with external funding and partner collaborations.
  • Kane Elkin BLM Gallery Walk – International student, Kane Elkin, participated in Black Lives Matter events back in his home of England and photographically documented the protests, with a special focus on individuals, faces and emotive expression. EDJI would like to exhibit his photographs on campus in a gallery opportunity for his photography. This would ideally be linked to a panel discussion event.
  • Biannual Professional Development Opportunities – Staff and students will have the opportunity to enhance their awareness of implicit bias, prejudice, discrimination and manufactured reality during EDJI-sponsored educational and professional growth opportunities. At a minimum, EDJI would run two sessions per year. Participants will receive a credential for their participation and will have the opportunity to continue the ‘work’ with follow-through engagements, such as mini-trainings and/or workshops, or other specifically-designated EDJI events.

Salisbury Diversity Panels – EDJI hopes to provide humble, yet meaningful honorariums to community participants for their time in:

  • Salisbury Small Businesses: Diversity in Action – This panel will work closely with the Chamber of Commerce to identify and highlight those business promoting and supporting the many manifestations of diversity in Salisbury-Rowan. We will aim to have a student moderator from the Ketner School.
  • Salisbury Social Entrepreneurs on Justice: Food, Art and Health – This panel will explore the non-profit sector of Salisbury, inviting local leaders to share their perspectives on how justice and injustice manifest in these three sectors. The discussion will explore how all three can dually be seen as challenges and solutions. We will aim to have a Sociology or Environment and Sustainability student moderate this session.

Implementation

Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid initiated the creation of the Task Force and supplied a vision for the shape it would take. She wrote the description/charge and presented it to the President and other key leaders. Its full implementation required Cabinet approval and its success is due to its inclusive and innovative nature. People on and off campus have been very enthusiastic about this group. This Task Force has brought much change to Catawba, gently challenged seemingly established norms, and has been well-received, understood, and respected. It is clear that EDJI has and will continue to move Catawba College closer to becoming a systemically-equitable institution of higher education.

The EDJI membership provides collaborative expertise, advice, and insights in order to identify, communicate and propose initiatives that represent the underrepresented. Membership on the task force is completely voluntary, but being a member does require a willingness to be genuine in one’s pursuit of egalitarianism across the institutional and academic practices of the College. The Task Force seeks to have broad-based representation from the College; ideally, the membership will continue to include individuals who are representative of the different ranks, roles, departments, tenures, and disciplines housed at Catawba. The membership also necessitates that individuals lend an informed and compassionate approach to revisiting current institutional standards, as well as an equipped perspective in the development of new norms, in order to bring forward the positive change needed within Catawba College and the community beyond.

A complete list of Task Force membership is posted on the Catawba EDJI website. The selection of EDJI membership will continue to be an inclusive process and will provide opportunity for detailed expressions of interest so that the Task Force can best form a collective unit going forward. There is plenty of opportunity for those who are not direct members to also establish a strong affiliation to the Task Force as events and initiatives unfold.

Timeline

These are most of the events from the first year of the Task Force. The Task Force is still a project-in-progress, as it will ideally culminate in an EDJI Office at the close of the 21-22 academic year.

  • June 16, 2020 – Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid sent initial proposal for creation of EDJI Task Force to senior leadership of Catawba College
  • June 17, 2020 – Formal endorsement received from Incoming President Dr. David Nelson, Interim President Dr. Kenneth Clapp, and the Cabinet for Mercedes to proceed with the Task Force
  • June 19-22, 2020 – Initial recommendations and volunteers secured for Task Force membership
  • June 24, 2020 – Dr. ChaMarra Saner volunteered to co-chair the Task Force alongside Dr. Quesada-Embid
  • July 8, 2020 – Official Task Force Charge and tentative timeline submitted to the Cabinet for review
  • July 20, 2020 – Official communication from the Office of the President shared with the Catawba College community introducing the development Task Force
  • July 30, 2020 – Catawba Black Alumni Network, Let’s Talk About It…Race Part I, Community Panel
  • August 3, 2020 - SGA Forum I – Diversity Dialogues, Student Experience in Housing
  • August 10, 2020 - SGA Forum 2 – Diversity Dialogues, Student Experiences as Athletes
  • August 17, 2020 - SGA Forum 3 – Diversity Dialogues, Student Experiences in the Classroom
  • August 17, 2020 - Office of Student Affairs Reveals Public Banner “Together, Catawba Transforms” to be placed on display on campus
  • August 17, 2020- Vigil for the campus at the conclusion of commencement to show our solidarity
  • August 27, 2020 - Catawba Black Alumni Network Let’s Talk About It…Race Part II, Community Panel
  • September 3, 2020 - Black Student Union BLM Black Out Protest and Solidarity Gathering
  • September 24, 2021 – EDJI Membership solidified at nearly 40 members from across college; academic, community and institutional subcommittees formed
  • September 25, 2020 - Sustainability in Society Webinar, hosted by Department of Environment and Sustainability, featuring Dr. Joe Bozeman
  • October 2020 – Racial Justice texts placed on display in the library as visible resource compendium for the academic year
  • November 11, 2020 Catawba Black Alumni Network and EDJI – Mending Black and Blue: Ensuring Safety and Building Trust in Our Communities
  • January 25, 2021 – Unanue Scholars Spring Program Launch, Latinx Leadership: Youth, Indigeneity and Sustainability
  • January 29, 2021 - Here’s My Story Bench celebrating local oral histories of diversity and inclusion program collaboration begins with Rowan Cabarrus Community College
  • February 11, 2021 – 11am: America’s Most Segregated Hour Film Screening and Community Panel Discussion
  • February 22, 2021 - Diversity Mentorship Program for underrepresented students initiated
  • February 23, 2021 – Good Trouble the John Lewis Story Community Discussion
  • February 27, 2021 – The Complex Tapestry of a Civil Rights America event partnership with International Civil Rights Center & Museum
  • March 15, 2021 – Everfi Anti-Bias Training for College Cabinet Members
  • March 26, 2021 – EDJI Website Landing Page Launch
  • March 31, 2021 - Gentle Beaver Mitigation Strategies on the Ecological Preserve Initiated
  • April 1, 2021 – Task Force members explore and initiate distinct training experiences
  • April 6, 2021 - Sustainability in Society Webinar, hosted by Environmental Justice and Advocacy Class, featuring Ms. Kaylah Braithwaite
  • April 8, 2021 - Intercollegiate Panel Leads Discussion on Wilmington’s Lies with David Zucchino
  • April 12, 2021 – Here’s My Story Bench celebrating local oral histories of diversity and inclusion installed on campus
  • April 20, 2021 – EDJI Logo Selected
  • April 26, 2021 Racial Wealth Gap Simulation with city of Salisbury
  • April 29, 2021 - Current Events and Creative Outlets Solidarity Event, in response to Chauvin Trial Verdict
  • May 5, 2021 – ENV Community Day
  • May 16-27, 2021 – Girls in Adventure Leadership in Science Program Equity Lens Training for Leads
  • May 27, 2021 - After being invited, co-chairs will meet with a Prominent Donor interested in supporting EDJI initiatives

Financing

The costs have varied. EDJI has drawn from the President's and Provost's budgets. To date, events have not been too costly. The co-chairs are currently drafting a budget for the upcoming year, which will receive approval and become its own account line. Once we are in a post-pandemic society, EDJI believes the costs will augment, in particular for event materials and honorariums.

Results

The results to date are a series of successful, independent, yet interconnected events showcasing the importance of an equity lens and the way by which such a guiding lens ensures alignment with actionable and meaningful transformation. Each event has been student-centered, has prioritized community, and has provided opportunity for intercollegiate partnerships and community involvement from the student level to the institutional level. The resulting outcomes have bridged organizations, bonded individuals, and built trust. EDJI is bringing a thoughtful perspective to the table and serving as an exemplar and partner in positive, systemic social empowerment and change.

Lessons Learned

The lessons learned have been far-reaching. In just this first year, Catawba College has seen the value in EDJI and has committed itself to ensuring that the Task Force transition into a well-staffed Office of Equity, Diversity, Justice and Inclusion. Students, Faculty, Staff and Community members have all experienced EDJI, directly or indirectly. Many have been inspired, many have voiced incredible support for the initiatives, may have donated their time, and some have even donated generously funding.

Although the work of the Task Force is far from over, here are some take-aways thus far, related to the criteria provided:

Overall impact – This project is making an incredible impact. This is a traditional, southern institution that has embraced some very forward-thinking initiatives which have improved the employee experience, the student experience and the public interfacing nexus of the institution.

Innovation – There are many ways by which to address diversity challenges/realities. EDJI's approach is one reflective of the principles of systems thinking, transdisciplinarity and intersectionality. EDJI recognizes that human difference exists and aims to seek out ways to celebrate that nested diversity, however, it also sees the value of finding commonality and celebrating the shared synergistic elements that are often more hidden from view.

Racial equity and social justice – This project carries racial equity and social justice at its core. It is the goal of EDJI to cultivate an anti-racist culture at Catawba and one that adheres to social justice in all of its myriad manifestations.

Replicability – EDJI can serve as an exemplar quite easily for other institutions. In particular, the membership see Catawba as being able to inspire other southern colleges to take similar, intentional steps to ensure alignment with the socio-ecological needs of the 21st century student and to be an active contributor in crafting cultural cohesion for a more just world.

Breadth of impact – EDJI recognizes that social justice is not isolated from ecological and political-economic decision-making. The community, academic and institutional goals each touch facets of sustainability directly and indirectly.

Stakeholder Involvement – EDJI continues to extend an open invitation for stakeholders to become directly involved as members, program partners, as allies to the cause, or as attendees at events. Any engagement is encouraged.


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