Programs of Public Affairs
The Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Initiative’s purpose is to identify and implement concrete actions that foster anti-racism and anti-oppression across all contexts of the Programs of Public Affairs (PPA). The Initiative consists of an Advisory Council and a Working Group, as described below, but its success hinges on the oversight, input, and contributions of all PPA faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
Amid the antiracist activism of 2020, the Programs of Public Affairs received necessary feedback from current students and alumni. In candid letters, students and alumni of color and white allies articulated that the Programs had not only failed to live up to the ideals of antiracist education, but at times perpetuated marginalization in our curricula, classrooms, and treatment of students. Deeply appreciated by faculty and staff, the communications helped spark a cross-program (re)commitment to addressing matters related to racism, marginalization, and oppression. One year later, this commitment takes the form of the Programs of Public Affairs JEDI Initiative, where “JEDI” refers to:
Justice —fair and equal distribution of rights, protections, privileges, and burdens in a society, including within and across its economic, environmental, legal, political, and governance dimensions
Equity — fair distribution of resources and opportunities, accounting for past and present events, conditions, and contexts
Diversity — sociodemographic differences, and specifically those that characterize traditionally marginalized individuals and groups on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, ability, and language
Inclusion — authentic and empowered participation that extends to a true sense of belonging for all, but especially the traditionally marginalized, across all program levels
Purpose & Structure
The JEDI Initiative’s purpose is to foster anti-discrimination and anti-oppression actions, skills, and knowledge acrossall components and contexts of the Programs of Public Affairs. To these ends, the Initiative’s central focus for the 2023-24 school year is to continu implementation of our Programs-specific JEDI Action Plan that spans program policies and practices, program and course curricula, course delivery and classroom interactions, and communications and relationships. Oversight and implementation of the PPA JEDI Action Plan is the primary responsibility of the JEDI Working Group, as described below, working under the guidance of the JEDI Initiative governing document.
The JEDI Initiative Working Group consists of Programs of Public Affairs faculty, supporting administrative staff, and participating students and/or alumni. The Working Group’s primary responsibilities are to develop and implement (either directly or by way of coordination) the JEDI Action Plan.
JEDI Working Group Members:
- Andrea Bott, Assistant Professor-Lecturer & JEDI Initiative Co-Coordinator
- Dr. Sandi Pershing, Assistant Professor-Lecturer & JEDI Initiative Co-Coordinator
- Dr. David P. Carter, Associate Professor & PPA Director
- Alex Yoder, PAGE VP of Diversity
Although its objectives are urgent, the JEDI Initiative will only be successful if it builds off of a solid understanding of JEDI concerns, the Programs’ limitations and failures in JEDI matters, and carefully designed actions and interventions to address these. To these ends, the Initiative can be considered in several stages:
Program audit (Spring 2021). In fall 2020, the Programs of Public Affairs contracted with Dr. Edén Cortes-López to perform an equity audit of the largest of the three programs, the MPA program. The results of the audit offer valuable insights into both the need for the JEDI Initiative and particular shortcomings that its efforts must address.
Convene JEDI Initiative bodies (Fall 2021-Spring 2022). In the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters, the JEDI Initiative is focused on convening the Advisory Council and Working Group. The Working Group will then turn to development of the JEDI Action Plan, under the advisement of of the Advisory Council. Initiative events and products from Fall 2021-Spring 2022 to date include:
- JEDI Initiative Town Hall #1 (January 18, 2022): A converstaion regarding JEDI matters at the PPA in the past, present, and future, facilitated by Irene Ota.
- JEDI Initiative Town Hall #2 (March 15, 2022): Updates from the JEDI Working Group, including results of the Spring 2022 Course EDI Review (see above), as well as genreal dialogue regarding JEDI matters at the PPA.
- PPA "U-nite" (March 23, 2022): As part of the University of Utah's Day of Collective Action, students and faculty participated in “lightning talks” and conversation to address racism, bias, discrimination, and shed light on broader equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) work.
Action Plan development (Summer 2022). During summer 2022, the Working Group focused on development of the Programs of Public Affairs JEDI Action Plan.