Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice at GHD
We embrace the dignity and value of every person with whom we meet and work, whether in the communities in which we serve, the GHD program, our workplaces, or our personal lives. We strive to build a strong community of support among our students, faculty, and staff. We value our diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities, and viewpoints, appreciate how these differences enrich our perspectives on development, and strive to further enhance the diversity of our community. We aim to cultivate an approach based on humility and respect, and to center, uplift, and amplify the voices of people in the communities in which we work. We believe development efforts are most successful when they are based on mutual respect, inclusiveness, local ownership, and an open exchange of knowledge and ideas.
We continually seek to be more inclusive of the multifaceted backgrounds and identities that our students, faculty, and staff represent, understanding that diversity includes more than just the “easily” defined categories that are most apparent at a glance. From country of origin, academic background, or previous work experience, you can look at the Class Profiles to find some information about the makeup of our current student population.
Trying to move beyond simply presenting a diverse population and given the overall direction of the field of international development, GHD has hired two student social justice assistants to work on ensuring that our community is supported and inclusive at all levels. The activities listed below are just some of the accomplishments that we have achieved with the leadership of these social justice assistants.
- Publishing a GHD values statement prioritizing our commitment to: service, inclusion, innovation, and ethics. These values both reflect what we already do well as a community and provide aspirational targets for continued improvement.
- Developing a set of Standards for Community Discussion to help students, faculty, and staff navigate difficult conversations.
- Supporting the development of workshops and retreats throughout the year.
- Ensuring that students have an understanding of resources available to them across campus that may align with one or multiple of their identities.
- Disseminating a survey to current students and alumni gauging their experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion within GHD, which allowed program staff to identify key pain points.
- Piloting a set of Brave Spaces to provide students with a space to come together and process current events and themes that are salient to them.
- Examples of past Brave Spaces include: what does it mean to be “woke” in international development; our role in climate justice; and positionality in the workspace.
We respectfully acknowledge that GHD’s offices, as part of the greater Georgetown campus, are occupying the traditional homelands of the Nacotchtank (na-KOSH-tahnk) and Piscataway Peoples and neighbors the homelands of many other Indigenous cultures. There are no longer any living members of the Nacotchtank, a result of settler colonialism, disease, and genocide. The remaining members joined the People where the Rivers Blend, who continue to live with and care for these lands. The Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe only received recognition by the state of Maryland in 2012, and have yet to receive federal recognition.
We are working toward building relationships with and uplifting Indigenous communities through academic pursuits, exploring land taxes, historical recognition, and our commitment to service. We understand that, as settlers, it is our responsibility to recognize and honor the importance of the Peoples, cultures, and stories that belong to the lands that we occupy. Indigenous Peoples are still here and this land will always be Indigenous land. We have a long way to go to atone for and mend our violent history toward Indigenous Peoples here and in the places we work.