As the Georgetown community honors Juneteenth, Joel S. Hellman, Dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), and Scott Taylor, SFS Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, shared the following message SFS students, faculty, staff and alumni:
Dear SFS community,
As we look forward to honoring Juneteenth this Saturday, June 19, we want to affirm our school’s commitment to global antiracism, update you on our progress toward realizing this core value and invite you to maintain and further your involvement in this deeply necessary work.
Last summer, we were shaken by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless other Black Americans who have suffered and lost their lives at the hands of racist violence. In June 2020, President John J. DeGioia established Juneteenth as a university holiday to recognize the incalculable impact of slavery on people of African descent and to honor the lives of the millions of Black people who fought against slavery and racism, despite the dehumanization and violence they experienced during enslavement.
Juneteenth presents an opportunity for the Georgetown community to reflect on the part played by the university in the legacy of slavery and anti-Black racism and to acknowledge the work that remains to achieve the full promise of freedom. Here at SFS, we’ve been engaged in reflection and self-examination as to our school’s own complicity in global systems of racism and injustice. In collaboration with the Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), colleagues across SFS have been working to design and implement new measures to advance antiracism.
In classrooms, SFS professors have incorporated diverse perspectives in their coursework and applied new pedagogical methods to encourage students to think about the voices all too often left out of traditional scholarship. Programs and centers have formed DEI committees of faculty and students to conduct curriculum reviews and advocate for better representation of scholars of color in syllabi, an effort that has also been advanced by the SFS Faculty Anti-Racism Working Group.
Many of these measures are still in their initial stages and there is much work ahead as we begin to rebuild after the challenges of this historic year. When the university hiring freeze is lifted, we are dedicated to recruiting more diverse faculty and staff to strengthen our school community and enrich our scholarly work. We look forward to a series of new engagements and outreach with high school students from underrepresented groups to introduce them to international affairs education and SFS. Additional training opportunities and student focus groups are also on tap; both will enable us to continue to build a more inclusive climate in the school.
We invite everyone in our community to use this holiday to reflect upon the meaning of Juneteenth, which is not only to celebrate Black Emancipation, but embrace its message of unity and equity. Let us rededicate ourselves to the work that remains to make SFS a truly antiracist institution.
With best wishes,
Joel Hellman, Dean, Walsh School of Foreign Service
Scott Taylor, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Walsh School of Foreign Service