IX. Climate, Culture, and Community

At its best, our university forges an intellectual community that draws an extraordinary constellation of individuals from across the country and around the world, each of whom brings a unique background and perspective. Building an inclusive community, however, requires more than drawing diverse people to our campuses. We must foster an environment that values diversity and demonstrates inclusion; facilitate activities that promote engagement with a diverse spectrum of people and views; and equip our faculty, students, and staff to engage thoughtfully and respectfully with each other. Because broad diversity of people and thought is an essential asset to Johns Hopkins, university leadership must commit to and be vigilant in fostering and developing the channels through which various perspectives can be sought and leveraged, enriching the excellence and effectiveness of our work.

We recognize the need to cultivate and create opportunities for open and honest conversations across our university about the historical legacies of discrimination and the societal structures that produce inequalities in access and opportunity for many of our own faculty, students, and staff. Our goal is to enhance our collective capacity not merely to raise sensitive issues but to foster free and open debate, inside and outside our classrooms. As an educational institution, we play a critical role in helping our community understand how to build bridges at challenging moments, broaden perspectives through interaction, and uphold a fundamental optimism in individuals’ capacity to grow.

What we are doing

Current Training Modules

The university has implemented new training modules to help our community better understand the principles of diversity and inclusion and to illustrate how day-to-day interactions can help build a community of shared values. As mentioned in the Students section, for example, all first-year undergraduate students participate in a session on pluralism and multiculturalism. Since fall 2015, undergraduate resident assistants at Homewood and Peabody and orientation peer mentors also have participated in enhanced cultural competency training.

Recently implemented or expanded trainings for other parts of our community include:

  • Unconscious bias training. Our unconscious bias training program offers practical research-based examples of unconscious bias in hiring and other decisions, and strategies for combating unconscious bias in the search process. Search committees, departments, and university leadership are using the unconscious bias training course as part of our efforts to raise awareness, particularly in the hiring process. The course is offered in person through the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) and Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and OIE also created an online version of the course, Diversity Matters: Faculty Searches at JHU.
  • Discrimination and harassment prevention training. Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training, which includes comprehensive Title IX training, is available to all faculty and staff. These programs are designed to help participants understand our anti-discrimination policies, explore the key legal framework on harassment and discrimination in the workplace and in academic settings, consider examples of inappropriate and unlawful conduct, and obtain information about the university’s complaint process through OIE.
  • Security staff training. Security personnel play a pivotal role in keeping our students safe and our campuses secure. All new security staff members receive training on issues of discrimination and harassment at the time of hire, and all security staff receive annual refresher instruction. Additionally, security personnel within JHM participate in a simulation-based training program focused on culturally competent de-escalation.
  • Available courses. Many courses offered through the university learning catalog to JHU employees address topics related to diversity and inclusion. These include classroom courses (e.g., Managing Workplace Diversity) and online offerings (e.g., Diversity on the Job and Managing Workforce Generations). In 2016, Human Resources launched a new introductory course called Diversity and Inclusion: 21st Century Higher Education, designed as a contemporary discussion of related topics, and a replacement of a former introductory course, Campus Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion. OIE offers a range of trainings with a focus on such issues as managing bias in the workplace, working collaboratively in a diverse environment, responding as a supervisor to workplace harassment and discrimination, and maintaining a safe and inclusive work environment. The Office of Continuing Medical Education also offers live and online courses that cover a range of topics, including health disparities and cultural competence for educators.

Programs on Race and Culture

We have been expanding enrichment opportunities on campus to include offerings exploring issues related to race and culture. These programs are designed to educate, challenge, and engage us in pressing issues—from the local uprising following the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in 2015, to the national conversation around economic and racial disparities, to the equal rights of women and the LGBTQ community.

Most prominent among these is the JHU Forums on Race in America lecture series, which resulted from campus conversations about race and injustice following the deaths of several black men across the United States at the hands of law enforcement. Forum speakers have included Atlantic correspondent Ta Nehisi Coates, filmmaker Dawn Porter, political activist and scholar Angela Davis, and a panel of scholars on racism and social justice. Other programs include a 2016 “Redlining Baltimore” series hosted by the 21st Century Cities Initiative, a recent Bloomberg School of Public Health symposium on violence against LGBTQ populations, and highly attended annual events such as the MLK Commemoration, which has hosted speakers including Coretta Scott King, Maya Angelou, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Morris Dees on the medical campus.

Exploring the University’s History

Our relationships on campus and in the community continue to be shaped and defined by the legacies of the university. In 2013, the university initiated a project to expand our collective understanding of our history. This effort, the Hopkins Retrospective, includes several components: an oral history project to record, transcribe, preserve, and share the histories of members of the Johns Hopkins community; an alumni archives project to collect materials and memories from former students; a website to highlight stories and images and collect submitted materials; and a comprehensive written history of the university by Stuart W. Leslie, a professor in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. The book is scheduled for completion in 2018.

This initiative will include attention to issues of race and diversity. In 2014, for example, undergraduate students in a course within the Program in Museums and Society developed an interpretive signage project that highlighted the historical significance of locations around the Homewood campus, including a structure that likely once housed slaves for the Carroll family when they owned the land on which the Homewood campus sits. In 2015, Homewood Museum, with support from a Johns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council Diversity Innovation Grant, hosted a symposium titled Perspectives on Slavery in Early Baltimore. Our growing collection of oral histories includes a member of the first class of women to attend Hopkins for four years and one of the first African-American engineering students. In 2016, Dr. Leslie focused his annual Alumni Weekend lecture on the university’s historical engagement with Baltimore, with special attention to former JHU Chaplain Chester Wickwire and civil rights protests. A new fellowship program for the study of Hopkins history will begin in summer 2017, with special consideration given to student projects that propose to explore the history of diversity at Hopkins.

We also continue to address our historical legacies. In 1951, for example, faculty members at Johns Hopkins Hospital harvested cells from Henrietta Lacks, a 30-year-old African-American patient with cervical cancer, without her knowledge or permission. Her cells became known as HeLa cells, one of the oldest and most commonly used human cell lines in biomedical research. To honor Henrietta Lacks and her contributions to scientific discovery, Johns Hopkins has created an annual symposium, a four-year scholarship for a local high school student, and other programs.

Our Schools’ Efforts

In addition, each of our schools and divisions has undertaken significant efforts to advance the conversations around diversity and inclusion. To highlight just a few:

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) responded to the unrest in Baltimore in spring 2015 by hosting more than 70 meetings in departments across the organization to give faculty, staff, and trainees a chance to share their perspectives and offer suggestions on how JHM could contribute to positive change. The meetings led to the creation of seven internal task forces, which synthesized feedback and presented proposals to JHM leadership on sustainable, high-impact projects aimed at making Baltimore stronger. One example is a series of one-mile walks around the local community led by the dean of the School of Medicine, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and other members of the JHM executive team. These walks, which started in fall 2016, are intended to build trust and engagement among the community, staff, and students.The Office of Women in Science and Medicine was created in 2008 with the goals of recognizing, acknowledging, promoting, and retaining women leaders. The Leader- ship Program for Women Faculty was developed in 2009, and more than 250 women from across Hopkins have participated and graduated from the program including women leaders in the schools of Nursing, Public Health, Medicine, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences.
  • The Krieger and Whiting schools appointed an associate dean for diversity and inclusion in spring 2016 after an extensive search. This new position helps oversee the divisions’ activities around matters of equity, diversity, and inclusion; supports efforts to recruit and retain faculty, postdocs, and graduate students; and serves as a resource to help foster a culture that values and supports each member of the community.The Krieger School received a diversity action plan from each department customized to specific needs and cultural disciplines/practices. Each department also has appointed a tenured/tenure-track faculty member to serve as a departmental Diversity Champion, ensuring that diversity and inclusion are factored into departmental activities and decisions. Also at the Krieger School, the Committee on the Status of Women has revived as an active force for socializing, networking, and information sharing on projects and areas of interest.
  • The Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force, established in the 2015–16 academic year, is examining Peabody’s current state of diversity with a focus on underrepresented communities, and is establishing a long-term plan that addresses the diversity pipeline for students, faculty, and staff. The institution wide task force, which includes faculty, staff, students, and alumni, is fostering an ongoing conversation about the culture of diversity at Peabody and in the world of classical music.
  • The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) started a Diversity Working Group (DWG) in 1999 that included the director and other senior executives. This group was charged with defining the actions needed from supervisors and managers to achieve APL’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Over 16 years, the DWG implemented more than 70 successful diversity-related initiatives, 27 of which were directly related to building and maintaining a positive and supportive climate. In spring 2016, the DWG was replaced by the Inclusion and Diversity Executive Alliance (IDEA), which includes all of APL’s senior executives, demonstrating the leadership commitment to these values. Among IDEA’s early priorities are expanding the objectives of Lab-wide mentoring efforts to include career development opportunities, and bringing together the current 10 diversity-related Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) into a single and more inclusive APL ERG.
  • The School of Nursing in 2015 launched a divisional Diversity and Inclusion Plan, which includes a range of teaching, recruitment, and community-building initiatives. Among these are the establishment of a SON Diversity Task Force of students, faculty, and staff; the hiring of a full-time human resources manager whose work includes supporting diversity in hiring and developing onboarding and orientation procedures aligned with diversity objectives; and quarterly meetings of the dean’s Administrative Leadership Team focused on challenges and opportunities related to diversity and inclusion, with proceedings reported out to the SON community to foster discussion and engagement around these issues.

Alumni Communities

The Hopkins alumni community is diverse in all senses of the word, and Johns Hopkins aims to celebrate that diversity.

Affinity groups within our alumni population provide activities, support to current students, opportunities for networking, mentoring for alumni and students, and channels for engagement in university efforts. One of the oldest such groups is the Society of Black Alumni (SOBA), founded in 1995. SOBA seeks to create an environment that supports our black students as they develop into committed alumni, to encourage diversity at the university, and to offer mentoring and networking opportunities to alumni. JHU PRIDE is a newer group, established in 2014, with a mission to create a community for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) alumni. The Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Alumni Council, the governing body of the 208,000-member organization, voted in 2016 to include a representative from both SOBA and PRIDE on its executive committee.

The Office of Alumni Relations seeks to develop and strengthen affinity groups because they foster relationships within diverse alumni populations and among alumni and students. Additional examples of these groups include the Men of Color Hopkins Alliance, Women in Business, and the SAIS Women Alumni Network. New groups in formation will focus on Latino alumni and those of South Asian heritage.

Our divisions are also forging new alumni linkages. Examples include the Black Alumni Group at Peabody and a growing alumni group at the Carey Business School’s Leadership Development Program for Minority Managers.

Addressing Complaints

As a university we are committed to protecting the right of faculty and students to engage in free and vigorous debate, and to creating an environment that is open to the expression of views that may be provocative or uncomfortable. In fall 2015, the university adopted a Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom, a document that formally espouses our commitment to protect “the right to speak and create, to question and dissent, to participate in debate on and off campus, and to invite others to do the same, all without fear of restraint or penalty.”

That openness relies on a broad respect for others in the community. Yet we know that our community is not immune from prejudice and bigotry. Our minority students, in particular, have shared that they experience moments of painful bias inside and outside the classroom. While we hope that the spirit of mutual respect and understanding that is the cornerstone of this Roadmap reduces the likelihood of these incidents (inadvertent or otherwise), our community members may experience injurious behavior that cannot be resolved without intervention. In these circumstances, the university has offices and personnel that can assist community members in constructively addressing these incidents:

  • Office of Institutional Equity. The Johns Hopkins Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), located in the Wyman Park building on the Homewood campus, is responsible for assessing and investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment affecting students, staff, and faculty at the university to determine possible policy violations. Over the last several years, OIE has received an increase in complaints regarding the proliferation of platforms for anonymous speech, online in social media and in the public domain, which are too often used to denigrate rather than debate (e.g., Yik Yak). Although the university’s capacity to manage these postings is limited, OIE will contin- ue to review reported incidents and work with relevant agencies, such as law enforcement or social media companies, when it finds illegal threats or harassment.
  • Other student complaints and concerns. As part of our commitment to ensuring a community that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion, we welcome expressions of concern or proactive ideas for ways of strengthening our climate. To promote understanding and mutual respect, the university has at its disposal a range of different responses, including the provision of support for individuals or a group, education for individuals identified as involved with a troubling incident, issuance of a community statement, sponsorship of an educational event, provision of opportunities for media- tion or restorative justice, and, if warranted in extremis, sanctions under university policy. On the Homewood campus, the associate dean for diversity and inclusion in Homewood Student Affairs is responsible for coordinating responses, in partnership with other relevant university officials.

Diversity Leadership Council

Founded in 1997, the universitywide Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) is a presidential advisory body that encourages, supports, and promotes the creation of policies and programs around diversity and inclusion. Its members are a cross section of faculty, students, and staff working in close affiliation with the eight divisional diversity councils.

Specifically, the DLC identifies and engages with critical university issues, such as championing the creation of the Latino Alliance, the development of the office of LGBTQ Life, and the improvement of family-friendly policies and services at Johns Hopkins, including the new Homewood Early Learning Center, opened in fall 2015. The DLC spearheaded the creation of Diversity Innovation Grants, which have supported projects that include the aforementioned symposium on slavery at Homewood farm, a community garden, and an LGBTQ leadership summit, among others. The council also hosts a Diversity Conference each fall, welcoming renowned speakers and offering workshops on a variety of topics, such as developing inclusive campus environments and living and working with an invisible disability.

The DLC is currently open to student members but has traditionally been composed largely of staff and faculty. The council recognizes the importance of adding new student perspectives to its work and ensuring that student voices are empowered to affect university policy and programming. For the 2016–17 academic year, the DLC welcomed its largest number of student members yet, adding four more seats for students. Additionally, the DLC formed a new subcommittee focused on enriching the student experience at Johns Hopkins.

Next steps

  • New cultural competency programs.Based on the feedback of a wide range of student, faculty, and staff groups from across the university, we will offer—and in some cases require—additional training in diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness. In spring 2016, the Provost’s Office tapped a Provost Diversity Fellow to produce a comprehensive white paper outlining the effects of such trainings and evaluating the most effective and impactful trainings available across higher education and beyond. Following the completion of that paper in fall 2016, the provost will establish a universitywide workgroup to make recommendations for a suite of cultural competency training modules that meets the needs of our community (approximately 40,000 people). These trainings may focus on a range of topics, including how to respond to harassment and discrimination, how to create a positive and inclusive climate in a particular unit or department, and/or how to lead academic discussions on sensitive or provocative topics or events.
  • Creation of a Homewood diversity council. In spring 2016, the deans of the Whiting and Krieger schools committed to creating a joint Homewood diversity council to advise on matters of diversity, advocate for policies that foster an inclusive climate, identify current practices that pose barriers to the engagement and success of underrepresented constituents, and implement innovations that advance the university’s diversity goals. The Homewood Council on Inclusive Excellence (HCIE) will collaborate with related committees across the university (i.e., Diversity Leadership Council, Committee on the Status of Women, Homewood Student Affairs) to support programming that builds community. HCIE held an open meeting in fall of 2016 to engage Homewood stakeholders in diversity efforts, develop a collective vision for the council, and identify the council’s priorities.
  • New websites. In order to communicate more directly and effectively about the opportunities and services available throughout JHU, the university is developing or upgrading several important websites.
    • The Office of the Chief Diversity Officer is launching a website (diversity.jhu.edu) that provides information and updates on diversity and inclusion, including on-campus events and a place to provide feedback and ideas.
    • The Office of Institutional Equity has undertaken a comprehensive overhaul of its website (oie.jhu.edu), incorporating students’ input regarding design, content, and navigability, to better inform our community about OIE services, resources, relevant university policies and procedures, and other information.
    • The university’s accessibility site (accessibility.jhu.edu) was launched in 2016 to answer questions for students, faculty, and staff seeking accommodations; people who have questions about campus access; faculty interested in best practices for helping students with disabilities; and information about making electronic information technology and events on campus accessible to all.