IDSS prioritizes and values diversity and inclusion among our community of students, faculty, and staff. The range of cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences of the individuals within IDSS are essential to our ability to live out our mission of tackling major societal problems using innovative, holistic, data-driven approaches. As a unit focused on improving society, we care deeply about the overall well-being of our students and community members—including their mental and physical health.

Task Force on Structural Racism

The IDSS Task Force on Structural Racism was launched to identify specific steps and activities to counter structural racism, leveraging the strengths and resources of IDSS and feeding into larger efforts taking place within MIT. The task force, comprised of IDSS faculty, staff, postdocs, and students, led structured discussions about racism within IDSS, and identified three key priorities for IDSS to address racism in all IDSS decision-making. The task force convened over the summer months of 2020 in order to begin a continuous process engaging all IDSS community members.

The task force’s recommendations are intended to catalyze an expanding set of actions. We anticipate an IDSS community meeting to review progress on these recommendations in Fall of 2021.

Increase the diversity of the IDSS community.

The task force gathered steps for increasing the diversity of our students, faculty, postdocs, and staff, including:

  • Advertise academic programs and active recruitment efforts through professional organizations, social justice groups, and programs serving underrepresented minorities
  • Increase promotion of academic programs to learners of the global online MicroMasters Program in Statistics and Data Science
  • Encourage and support faculty recruitment of underrepresented minorities
  • Hold faculty discussions and invite speakers to address bias in hiring and admissions processes
  • Update staff hiring processes to increase the diversity of applicant pools

Develop and expand IDSS research on structural racism.

The IDSS community is uniquely positioned to conduct data- and policy-driven research on structural racism. The task force provided recommendations for developing our internal expertise and forging connections to researchers studying diversity and equity issues, and established a goal of building a community of researchers working in this area within IDSS, the Schwarzman College of Computing (SCC), and MIT more broadly. These recommendations include:

  • Creating a postdoctoral fellowship on structural racism
  • Developing a new seminar series for researchers at MIT and beyond to discuss and plan how to incorporate structural racism into their research
  • Inviting speakers to showcase successful research in this area in the IDSS Distinguished Seminar Series
  • Building links to related efforts at other universities

Hire a Community and Diversity Coordinator.

An IDSS C&D coordinator will support the SCC Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in developing long-term strategies to increase diversity and inclusion within IDSS and the college at large. The IDSS C&D coordinator can play a central role in supporting the IDSS community toward actions to address systemic and structural racism, organizing community-building events, supporting students and community members, and liaising with an ongoing IDSS DE&I committee comprised of faculty, staff, postdocs, and students.

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