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JEDI Initiative

Programs of Public Affairs


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 treatment of all individuals and groups, with emphasis on the legal and governance dimensions of society

Equity fair distribution of resources and opportunities, accounting for past and present events, conditions, and contexts

Diversity sociodemographic differencesspecifically 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

The JEDI Initiative’s purpose is to identify, articulate, and implement concrete actions that foster anti-racism and anti-oppression across all contexts under the purview of the Programs of Public Affairs. To these ends, the Initiative’s central focus for the 2021-2022 school year will be the development of a Programs-specific JEDI Action Plan that spans program policies and practices, program and course curricula, course delivery and classroom interactions, and communications and relationships—both internal and external. Examples of concrete actions under the Action Plan include:

  • Formally integrating diverse recruitment policies for all positions through partnership with University Human Resources diverse recruitment experts.
  • Developing and offering regular courses at the intersection of JEDI and public affairs, such as colonial public administration, social justice leadership, race and public policy.
  • Identifying training opportunities to raise faculty and staff awareness of their JEDI-related positionalities, increase their JEDI competencies, and better equip them to address JEDI matters both in and outside of the classroom.

Composition

The JEDI Initiative consists of an Advisory Council and a Working Group, as described below, although the efforts of all Programs of Public Affairs faculty and staff will be necessary for the Initiative to realize its aims. The oversight, input, and participation of interested faculty, staff, students, and alumni are welcomed; see How to Participate for more information.

JEDI Initiative Working Group. The JEDI Initiative Working Group consists primarily of current Programs of Public Affairs faculty and staff, although the participation of current students and alumni is welcomed. The Working Group’s primary responsibilities are to develop and implement (either directly or by way of coordination) the JEDI Initiative Action Plan.

JEDI Initiative Advisory Council. The JEDI Initiative Advisory Council consists of Programs of Public Affairs students and alumni who are members of or allies to traditionally marginalized groups. The Advisory Council’s primary responsibilities are to advise and oversee the efforts of the Working Group, including periodic reviews and audits of the Working Group’s progress, and that of the JEDI Initiative, overall.

How to participate

The JEDI Initiative invites the participation of interested faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We further intend the Initiative to be transparent, responsive, and accountable to the Advisory Council, current students, alumni, and other stakeholders. This webpage will serve as a central manner for reporting on Initiative progress and will be regularly updated with Initiative products. Check back regularly and contact us at ppa-jedi@utah.edu if you are interested in participating in the Working Group or Advisory Committee, to provide input on the Initiative, or with related queries.

Timeline

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.

mpa program 2021 equity audit report

Convene JEDI Initiative bodies (Fall 2021). In the Fall 2021 semester, the JEDI Initiative will first focus 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. 

Action Plan completion (Summer 2022). By the end of the Summer 2022 semester, the Working Group will have completed the Programs of Public Affairs JEDI Action Plan, including review by and approval of the Advisory Council.

Action Plan implementation (Fall 2022-2023). The JEDI Working Group will be responsible for coordinating and realizing Action Plan implementation. The Advisory Council will oversee implementation by reviewing and confirming satisfactory progress and completion per the Plan.

Outside building wall with stenciled graffiti art of woman's head with afro. The text "DIVERSITY IS HOPE" is stenciled in the afro.

Photo by Lucie Hošová

 
Last Updated: 9/27/21