Anthropology Standing Committee for a Supportive Departmental Community (SCSDC)
First established in 1890 as the Department of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard’s Anthropology Department today is a dynamic and diverse community of scholars, students, and staff whose work seeks to understand human diversity in the distant past and the present and to recognize the remarkable array of circumstances in which human beings live their lives and make meaning from them.
On May 29 and June 5, 2020, our community was deeply shaken by two articles published in the Harvard Crimson that reported allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior by faculty associated with the Anthropology Department. The alleged misconduct is an affront to our core values as a department and our mission to educate tomorrow’s scholars and leaders. While the mechanisms for investigating the allegations and imposing sanctions fall outside the purview of the department, there is much that we can do to strengthen our department, rebuild trust within our community, and empower our most vulnerable members to speak out. We are fully committed to the support and success of our students, and we are dedicated to repairing and rebuilding our relationships over the long term to create a more supportive and equitable departmental culture.
Here we establish a standing committee with representatives from all departmental constituencies – undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and alumni – to conduct a year-long self-study that will allow us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and make meaningful and lasting departmental improvements so that we may reach our full potential. Within this standing committee, we have formed eight subcommittees whose mission is to evaluate in detail the core aspects of our departmental structure, processes, history, and trajectory, and to recommend measures that will enable us to strengthen our mission and to foster a supportive departmental community in which our students, faculty, and staff can thrive.
1. Evaluation of Current Institutional Resources and Gaps (Chair: Nick Harkness). This subcommittee is focused on identifying and explaining a full range of resources for questions, complaints, support, and training related to university policies on personal and professional conduct, to identify gaps in support and propose department-level solutions, and to address problems with transparency, communication, and information.
2. Diversity in Student Concentrators, Graduate Admissions, and Faculty Recruitment and Promotion (Chair: Richard Meadow). This subcommittee is focused on reviewing the historical data on diversity across all department constituencies (including graduate admissions, as well as faculty searches and appointments), and to make recommendations for improvement, with explicit expectations and benchmarks.
3. Community Building and Inclusion (Chair: Christina Warinner). This subcommittee is focused on evaluating the full range of intellectual and social activities within the department, the budgets that support these activities, and the building spaces used for these activities, and to make recommendations for how to achieve better inclusiveness and cohesion.
4. Professional Trajectories (Chair: Michael Puett). This subcommittee will conduct a review of alumni and student experiences to identify past and present barriers to professional success, create alumni mentorship networks, and better understand alumni trajectories.
5. Advising and Mentoring (Chair: Christina Warinner). This subcommittee will conduct a review of the current advising experience, develop comparative cases from other institutions, and make recommendations for the improvement, centralization, and evaluation of the advising and mentoring structures and practices.
6. Curriculum (Chair: Nick Harkness). This subcommittee will conduct a full evaluation of the undergraduate and graduate curricula, evaluate the curricular commitment to diversity and inclusion, and, for graduate students in both programs, provide recommendations for important milestones in the graduate curriculum (e.g., required courses, general exams, prospectus).
7. Accountability and Monitoring (Chair: Richard Meadow). This subcommittee is focused on understanding and improving departmental procedures for recording and maintaining information, making committee appointments, and lines of responsibility, with the aim ensuring a continued, department-wide commitment to the initiatives and solutions proposed by the Standing Committee.
8. Engagement (Chair: Michael Puett). This subcommittee is focused on identifying areas for members of the departmental community to become more widely engaged in activities beyond the department—at the university, within the regional community, and with the public more broadly.
External Consulting and Support
During our year-long self-study, we will be assisted Edith Onderick-Harvey, managing partner of NextBridge Consulting. Ms. Onderick-Harvey specializes in facilitating institutional change, and she will advise the SCSDC and provide support for confidential climate surveys that we will conduct at the department level over the coming academic year. You may contact Ms. Onderick-Harvey at any time regarding questions or concerns relating to the SCSDC.