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Diversity and Inclusivity in the Art History Department

Published July 27, 2020

Art history is globally engaged discourse that aims to tell the stories of world arts, architectures, and visual cultures from as many perspectives as possible. We believe that a more diverse departmental community and curriculum strengthens our work as art historians. We as a department celebrate the rich inheritance of our human differences and seek to foster a scholarly environment that emphasizes inclusivity, intellectual curiosity, and compassion.

It is important for art historians to recognize the field was created through racism, theft, and degradation of POC. It is not information that should be withheld from students, and we must educate faculty, staff, and students of art history’s past. We recognize that  that institutional and systemic racism pervades every aspect of life in the United States, including universities and academic departments.

The Florida State University Department of Art History will never condone racism, xenophobic, hate speech, sexist, classist, discriminatory, homophobic, or ableist behavior of any kind. The department hold the responsibility to address and dispel any discrimination or exclusion. We will always seek to promote diversity and inclusivity, and further educate ourselves where it is needed. Areas of recruitment such as faculty, staff, and student seek inclusivity and diversity. Our programs will intervene in racism, violence, and structural inequalities, and model ourselves to promote anti-racism.  The department aims to cultivate a communicative, supportive and cohesive community that thinks holistically about its own welfare and ways to improve our practice forward. We are adamant in fostering spaces that support students of color and students from under-represented backgrounds.

The discipline of art history today faces immense opportunities based on new horizons in studies with Indigenous peoples and research globalization, colonialism, and world histories; concerns for ecology and the environment; and the use of digital technologies. In the coming year, the Art History faculty will:

  • actively work together to mindfully explore strategies for decolonizing and and diversifying future course offerings and syllabi.
  • revisit the structure of our curriculum, along with degree requirements, how we place ourselves in relation to traditional academic areas, and how we structure the art history survey courses.
  • participate as a group in upcoming anti-racist and intersectional equity training offered by the FSU Office of Human Resources, including but not limited to the Allies and Safe Zones Workshops, Mental Health Awareness, and the Global Partners Certificate in Bridging Cultures.
  • consider graduate applications more holistically with a decreased emphasis on standardized testing, and eliminate the GRE from our application forms.
  • pending the approval of the Office of Human Resources and the Dean of the College of Fine Arts, add a Land Acknowledgment statement to our department website, and read it before any department event.
  • support guest speakers who will promote racial and intersectional equity in our curriculum and curricular instruction.
  • we commit to regular town hall meetings at least once per semester in the spring and fall, and we pledge our participation wherever possible at all events sponsored by the department or featuring the work of our students (such as the CFA Showcase, the MCHS Symposium, Museum Object openings, the Graduate Student Symposium, and film screenings).

The faculty agreed to change the name of the department Diversity and Inclusivity Committee to the Anti-Racism, Universal Accessibility, and Intersectional Equity Committee. The name of the committee will be revisited after student representatives are elected to the committee this fall. As now stipulated in the department bylaws, this committee will include three faculty members (not including the chairperson), two doctoral students, two master’s students (one MCHS, one ARH), and two undergraduates.  Any further changes to the scope of the committee’s activities will be determined with the student members of the committee.

Finally, the Art History faculty agree that graduate students should henceforth run the Art History Graduate Symposium, including the refereeing of abstracts, selection of papers, and selection of a keynote speaker. This change in the symposium’s organization and execution will provide important professional development opportunities, including experience with committee work, communicating, networking, and scheduling. We will form a Graduate Symposium Committee composed of graduate students with a faculty advisor. One faculty member of the Anti-Racism, Universal Accessibility, and Intersectional Equity (ARUAIE) Committee will be available for consultation upon the Committee’s request. We also invite the graduate students to assume responsibility for the editing and potential re- envisioning of Athanor, with the support of the Department of Art History and the College of Fine Arts (CFA). Students participating in the publishing process would benefit from professional development opportunities.