Frequently Asked Questions

How is the standing committee organized?

The standing committee is composed of faculty, student, staff, museum and alumni representatives and advisors. The committee is chaired by Dr. Christina Warinner, a faculty member in the Archaeology Program. The members of the standing committee serve as a network that connects the diverse members of the department and will play a key role in communication and problem-solving as we work to build a strong department community. In addition to the main committee, there are eight subcommittees made up of standing committee members and additional volunteers from the anthropology community. Each subcommittee is chaired by a faculty standing committee member. Each subcommittee will evaluate in detail the strengths and weaknesses of a core aspect of the department and make recommendations for its improvement.

Who is my standing committee representative?

To find out who your representative is, please visit our Members page or contact anthroSC@fas.harvard.edu

What does a standing committee representative do?

Representatives play a key role in facilitating communication, researching problems, and making recommendations. Representatives voice the concerns of their constituency at the standing committee meetings and bring to the committee’s attention any questions or other arising matters that affect their constituency. All representatives also serve on a subcommittee where they participate in carrying out the subcommittee’s tasks.

What is the difference between the standing committee and its subcommittees?

The standing committee serves a primarily organizational role that ultimately coordinates and supports the work of the eight subcommittees. The majority of the committee’s work will take place in the subcommittees. Each subcommittee is focused around a single core aspect of the department, and the subcommittees are tasked with thoroughly investigating and evaluating each of these core aspects of the department. The subcommittees will each write a report detailing their findings and recommending solutions. The standing committee will coordinate this process and facilitate communication across subcommittees when common themes are identified. The standing committee will produce a final report with binding recommendations for the department. 

What is the aim of the standing committee?

The aim of the standing committee (and its subcommittees) is to conduct a thorough self-evaluation of our department, to identify gaps and weaknesses, and to recommend solutions. Although one subcommittee will focus specifically on identifying problems with current processes related to Title IX, the scope of the standing committee is much broader and includes all topics that fall under diversity, inclusion, education, community, research and training, professionalization, and wellbeing. At the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, the standing committee will produce a report of their findings and detailed recommendations for strengthening our community and fostering a supportive departmental culture in which our students, faculty, and staff can thrive.

I would like to provide feedback anonymously. Is this possible?

During the course of the 2020-2021 academic year, the standing committee will organize a department-wide climate survey. All members and affiliates (faculty, students, staff, alumni) will be encouraged to respond to the survey, and respondents’ identities will be removed (deidentified) prior to the responses being made available to the committee. If you would like to provide feedback without your identity being known to the committee, we recommend providing it through the survey. 

In addition, you may communicate your concerns confidentially (but not anonymously) at any time to your representative or to any member of the standing committee. To set up a call or meeting, please contact your representative or the standing committee member directly, or you may request a meeting by writing to anthroSC@fas.harvard.edu.  

What is the time frame of the standing committee?

The standing committee is being formed during summer 2020 and will begin its main work at the start of the fall 2020 semester. During the 2020-2021 academic year, the committee and its subcommittees will conduct a thorough self-review of the department and will write detailed reports of their findings and recommendations. A final report by the standing committee will be finalized and made public in summer 2021. 

Why is the standing committee time frame so long? Why can’t you work faster?

In order to make meaningful, lasting change, we feel it is important not to rush the evaluation of our department. We want to hear from as many people as possible, and it takes time to conduct effective interviews, listening sessions, surveys, and other forums for feedback. Complex problems almost never have easy solutions. We are committed to making lasting, positive change, and we are willing to put in the time to do so successfully.  

What if there are urgent things that need to be addressed immediately?

We recognize that there may be urgent matters needing redress that cannot wait for the results of a year-long standing committee self-evaluation. For such matters that need immediate departmental attention, please contact the department chair (anthrochair@fas.harvard.edu). You may also ask your standing committee representative to pass along information to the department chair on your behalf. 

Some of the immediate measures that are currently planned or have already been put into place are: 

  • Conduct a fall 2020 workshop on Title IX mechanisms, Sexual Assault and Prevention, and bystander training 
  • Conduct a workshop on field school and fieldwork safety
  • Appoint a Community Liaison who will serve as a trusted resource on abuses of power 
  • Ensure that the graduate admissions process prioritizes admits who can work with a diversity of faculty 
  • Remove recommendation letters as requirements in applications for departmental funding
  • Conduct an advising and mentoring retreat for faculty 
  • Update guidelines for graduate student advisory committees
  • Offer a new professionalization workshop for upper G year students that will incorporate content related to alternative career pathways 
  • Revisit and revise graduate program requirements with a particular focus on the proseminars and general exams 
  • Add a standing agenda item at faculty meetings for graduate student inquiries, requests, and proposals 
  • Schedule monthly meetings to update community members on departmental governance