Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at LBJ: Culture | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at LBJ: Culture

Culture

A culture of inclusivity — both within the classroom and the larger school — is integral to a robust educational experience, and creating diverse programming has been a major focus at the LBJ School over the past five years. Diversifying the school's culture is a necessary but not sufficient condition for promoting diversity, equity and inclusivity — but it has been an important step in supporting ongoing DEI efforts in composition and curriculum. 
 
Through programs like the Dean's Distinguished Leaders Series, LBJ In the Arena and the "Policy on Purpose" podcast, we can bring forth a representative and rich array of voices. In further widening the arena of discourse and engagement, the LBJ School has hosted visiting scholars and leaders such as former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and former Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, who bring a diverse perspective and background to our community.

Below are steps taken and those charted for the immediate future.

School Level

There has been a sharp focus on diversifying programming in the last five years. A diversification of culture is a necessary but not sufficient condition for promoting diversity, equity and inclusivity. However, it has been an important step to support ongoing composition and curriculum DEI efforts.

The Office of Civic Engagement was established in 2019 to more intentionally engage diverse communities through strategic partnerships and programming. The Office of Civic Engagement is an explicit point of engagement for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the larger UT and non-UT community. The purpose of the Office of Civic Engagement is to provide resources and programming that are responsive to the contemporary issues of our diverse communities. In hosting moderated conversations, public lectures and workshops the Office of Civic Engagement bridges the LBJ community to policy leaders in the arena. Programming centers on the voices of diverse leaders as well as policy issues that affect minority and under-served communities.

Policy Briefing Series
Since its inception, the Office of Civic engagement has hosted a Policy Briefing series about policy issues and communities of color. Recent briefings include:

Barbara Jordan National Forum
The Office of Civic Engagement has brought the annual Barbara Jordan National Forum under its portfolio to provide this annual commemoration greater reach and organizational resources. In 2020, the LBJ School celebrated the 23rd annual Barbara Jordan National Forum, a student-led weeklong series of events paying tribute to former congresswoman, distinguished public servant and teacher Barbara Jordan, whose legacy as a leader in advocating for social change is integral to the school's history and mission.

2020 Barbara Jordan National Forum events:

The LatinX Factor
The Office of Civic Engagement has also partnered with campuswide entities (Center for Mexican American Studies and the UT Hispanic Faculty/Staff Association) to launch an annual Latino summit as part of the commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month (which was instituted by President Lyndon B. Johnson). The inaugural Latino summit, "The LatinX Factor," focused on understanding the role of identity and its implications for our political and policy landscape. Browse photos from the summit.

LBJ Women's Campaign School
Most recently, the Office of Civic Engagement supported the launch of the LBJ Women's Campaign School — a nonpartisan program that trains women to run for office or manage campaigns. The LBJ WCS seeks to directly address the representational gap in elected positions at every level and across all groups of women.

Center for the Study of Race and Democracy
The Office of Civic engagement builds upon and amplifies the work of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) at the LBJ School, led by nationally recognized race scholar Peniel Joseph. The CSRD is an important space at the LBJ School and the UT campus for honest and constructive conversation about race, ethnicity and politics. The center brings in scholars, advocates and leaders from across the country to engage with the LBJ community. Most recently, CSRD hosted a community conversation, "Justice and Equity in a Time of National Racial Crisis," in response to the May 26 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

Some events over the past few years:

  • CSRD's William C. Powers, Jr. Speaker Series — keynotes by:
    • Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's leading scholars on African American history and literature;
    • Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and
    • Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, one of the nation's leading scholars on race, democracy, inequality and criminal justice.
  • In 2018, the CSRD Graduate Research Associates presented "Civil Rights in Burnt Orange," an oral history and policy project chronicling UT and the city of Austin's transition from Jim Crow to racial integration. The film was directed by Roosevelt Neely (MPAff '18) — a joint project for UT's Radio-Television-Film advanced documentary class and the CSRD.

Diversity, equity and inclusion-oriented programming at the LBJ School, 2015–20

 

Summit on Race in America
In addition, LBJ faculty took part in and LBJ School students were invited to attend the Summit on Race in America, hosted by the LBJ Foundation in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium April 8–10, 2019.

During the summit, LBJ School students attended private sessions with Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and longtime activist for civil rights and criminal justice reform; and American labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and 2012 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 

The Office of Civic Engagement and the CSRD will continue to provide programming that cultivates diversity, equity and inclusivity for the LBJ community. In the wake of the national racial crisis sparked by the murder of George Floyd both entities will provide programming that directly speaks to this crisis through the lens of policy affairs.