Category: Featured News, News

Title: Improving MSFS Response to National Racial Injustice

Date Published: June 26, 2020

Dear Students and Alumni,

Last week, we received a resounding call from the MSFS community to commit to fighting racism and including diversity, equity, and inclusion as core principles of our program. The letter was signed by over 300 students and alumni. The MSFS Leadership Team stands united with the MSFS Community in recognizing that we still have significant work to do to confront racism and injustice at home and around the world. We plan to do this in close coordination with all members of our community – our alumni, students, leadership team, and the wider SFS and GU communities.

We recognize that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are key goals of our program. There is much to be done to achieve these goals. Your recent letter provides useful recommendations for improving student engagement and support, institutional responses, staff and faculty, curricular and co-curricular activities, recruitment and admissions, and career support. Promoting significant changes in these and other areas of concern will require sustained attention, analysis, and deliberation. To guarantee that these efforts are sustained, we are creating the MSFS Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Committee will be charged with identifying and developing strategic plans for addressing DEI challenges within the MSFS program. It will also be responsible for identifying ways that MSFS can learn from and engage with DEI initiatives across the University. The Committee will report its findings and recommendations to the Leadership Team and broader MSFS Community on a regular basis during the academic year. The MSFS Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be chaired by Professor Shantayanan Devarajan and include representatives from the student body, the Leadership Team, and the faculty who teach MSFS core courses in economics, history and international relations.

The first task of the Committee will be to determine how best to articulate and encapsulate diversity, equity, and inclusion into our Core Values. To ensure that any changes or additions to the statement of our values have meaning, signal intent, and guide action, we must do more than simply post the words on our web page. Given the seriousness of this endeavor, it will be guided by consultation and deliberations with internal and external stakeholders from throughout the MSFS community.

We are also taking several immediate actions. We are expanding our communications and social media team to give MSFS a more robust presence on social media, provide a better platform for affirming the MSFS stance against injustice, and highlight actions that the MSFS program and everybody in the MSFS community are taking to promote DEI. The MSFS website will also be updated to provide a means for reporting and recommending solutions to DEI concerns. We are actively engaged in conversations with our faculty about promoting DEI in their syllabi and are developing training protocols for students, staff, and faculty that will be included in orientation and continued throughout the year. We are reaching out to other units and working with DEI experts to enhance student services and increase MSFS participation in DEI initiatives across Georgetown. We are working with other MA programs at Georgetown and in APSIA to promote diversity in our student body and are engaging with our advancement team to generate additional scholarship support for underrepresented communities.

The collective outrage and pain of the murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery – and the ongoing racism in our society – have galvanized the MSFS Community. Making systemic changes will take a sustained and collective effort. With the guidance from our DEI Committee and your continued input, we are confident that we can make significant progress. Thank you for your input and for everything else you have done. We look forward to engaging as we continue to work towards a more just future.

Sincerely,

George Shambaugh, Director of the MSFS Program, on behalf of the MSFS Leadership Team