2018 Diversity and Inclusion Hackathon Outcomes: Leadership in Academic Climate Excellence (LACE)

About the Hackathon
The APSA Presidential Task Force on Women’s Advancement held a Diversity and Inclusion Hackathon at the 2018 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Boston, chaired by Mala Htun and Alvin B. Tillery, Jr.  At the hackathon, teams developed strategies to address key challenges facing the profession, build partnerships, and plans to move forward. This series of PSNow posts highlights those proposals and links to more resources for the profession.

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Proposal for Leadership in Academic Climate Excellence (LACE), a certification process to be led by APSA that develops a set of guidelines to encourage departments to take initiatives to improve climate and to render those initiatives and their impacts more visible to the broader APSA community. Positive certification can be used by departments to advertise themselves to prospective job candidates and students as a positive place to work and study. Team led by Jenna Bednar and Michael Chwe.

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The #Metoo and #TimesUp movements have spread from Hollywood to the Supreme Court.  As political scientists we specialize in the study of power, and so are uniquely qualified to address issues of power inequalities in organizations. We also are equipped with the tools to identify, document, and address power relations and power disparities, through data collection, analysis, and dissemination. And we have the methods for data, accuracy, transparency, and  confidentiality.

“There are many ways to transform academic climate to be more inclusive and respectful, but often the most effective transformations require organic approaches in which all members of a unit are engaged.”

The political scientists of this hackathon group are committed to promoting a positive academic climate for faculty and students that allows all members of political science departments to thrive in our departments, on our campuses and beyond. Central to our concerns are gender, racial, and sexual harassment and assault, reporting inconsistencies, process of response, consequences, and enforcement related to incidents. We believe that these can be addressed effectively only through addressing the broader issues of climate. There are many ways to transform academic climate to be more inclusive and respectful, but often the most effective transformations require organic approaches in which all members of a unit are engaged. Moreover, approaches that draw on instructive and constructive approaches, rather than punitive approaches, can be more effective.

With these lessons in mind, and the tools we already have in hand as political scientists, we propose the following recommendations. Top among these is establishing a certification process, led by the APSA, that develops a set of guidelines to encourage departments to take initiatives to improve climate and to render those initiatives and their impacts more visible to the broader APSA community: LACE (Leadership in Academic Climate Excellence). Positive certification can be used by departments to advertise themselves to prospective job candidates and students as a positive place to work and study.

“The political scientists of this hackathon group are committed to promoting a positive academic climate for faculty and students that allows all members of political science departments to thrive in our departments, on our campuses and beyond.”

We recommend to APSA the development of a certification process, modeled in LEED, that will set in place positive incentives for the development of positive academic climates among all its member institutions. We suggest the name LACE: Leadership in Academic Climate Excellence. Academic units that meet the standards set out by LACE will be given positive ratings — a signal to prospective job candidates and students that can be mentioned in job ads and recruitment literature — that the unit has sought to create an environment that is hospitable to individuals of all kinds.

We suggest the oversight body for this APSA LACE program be integrated with the APSA status committees, as a standing committee or part of an existing committee.


LACE Hackathon Team Members: Brooke Ackerly (Vanderbilt University, Jenna Bednar (University of Michigan), Merike Blofield (University of Miami), Michael Chwe (UCLA), Carlos Contreras (University of New Mexico), Jason Davis (NASPA), Christina Ewig (University of Minnesota) , Gisela Sin (University of Illinois), David Singer (MIT), Hillel Soifer (Temple University), Johanna Solomon (Kent State University), Nora Webb Williams (University of Washington)

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