Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Our Activities

The Heller School aims to improve equity, inclusion and diversity (EID) by creating specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals for demographics, recruitment, and retention of faculty, staff, researchers and students. We support this work through the use of evidence-based interventions, tracking and monitoring systems, and measuring impact. 

Our theory of change brings multilevel reform including institutional, structural, psychological and behavioral transformation, promoting a thriving community at Heller. We track progress through climate surveys, course evaluations and annual program reviews, among other methods.  

Strategic positioning

  • The Associate Dean of EID has the capacity and mandate to negotiate the EID budget and design its strategic plan. The position has a deciding role in the educational steering committee and is present at Heller Board of Advisors meetings. 
  • The office of EID has the autonomy to write and use self-generated grant funding to support community engagement.

Diversity training programs

Multicultural responsible and relevant workshops are provided to faculty and staff members throughout the Heller School. This training brings together the community through conversations around self-awareness and care, bias and discrimination, cultural awareness and cultural humility principles, and dialogue across differences. The sessions also include reviewing syllabi, multicultural teaching, and peer-to-peer and student interactions. The goal of these initiatives is to promote healthy pluralism in the pursuit of successful educational outcomes.

First year peer mentorship program 

The Heller School has initiated a mentorship program where second year and above students mentor incoming students. The program aims to foster a support system where students can get the best out of their academic, professional, psychological and social experience at Heller. This program was developed in partnership with the Office of Academic and Student Services.

Developing cultural competency

  • Sankofa Community Conversations: these are reflective, conversation-based events that engage the whole Heller community. In the last three academic years, Sankofa Community Conversations have included various exercises and workshops facilitated by social justice activists and other invited guests. 
  • Cross-cultural communication training: a series of training sessions under the umbrella of cross-cultural communication for Heller students. These workshops encompass conversations on identity, cultural humility, listening for trust and understanding, intent versus impact, allyship, managing hot moments, and difficult conversations. 

Multicultural student clubs and organizations

Heller supports and collaborates with student working groups such as the Gender Working Group, Racial Equity Working Group, Black Graduate Student Association, Disability Working Group, and Brandeis University African Forum. This helps to represent the diverse voices of the Heller School and create a collaborative environment for these groups in addressing the intersectionality of the issues they focus on. 

Diversity courses for students

The office of EID maintains a list of courses that focus on the issues of diversity and inclusion that can foster student’s in-depth knowledge of the area. Moreover, the office of EID recommends the introduction of new courses on various relevant social justice topics.

Multicultural events on campus

We celebrate our multicultural diversity through various events such as African night, Asian night, and other artistic and cultural activities. The Heller School observes the major national and international months and days through social events, cultural activities, and awareness programs. This includes Black History Month, Women’s History Month, LGBTQIA Pride Month, Martin Luther King Day, and international days such as International Disability Day, International Women’s Day, International Mother Language Day, and Earth Day. 

Methods to diversify faculty, staff, and administration

The Director of EID is present in all faculty search committees and promotes methods of intentional search as we seek to increase the diversity of staff and faculty. The office has created a staff recruitment guidance document and also conducts anti-implicit/explicit bias training for search committees

Robust collaboration with student support partners

The office of EID works closely with university partners such as the Office of Equal Opportunity, Ombuds Office, Center for Teaching and Learning, Brandeis DEI Office, Brandeis Counseling Center, and others. 

Partnership to inspire a pipeline of youth into higher education

The office of EID partners with local groups to increase the admission of underserved and minority youth within the surrounding communities. 

  • Heller HOPE Institute: The Heller School participates in the Summer Transition HOPE Institute in collaboration with Boston Public Schools (BPS) and several other universities. This program provides a pathway for youth to engage with colleges through meaningful and relevant summer courses. The Institute helps each young person embrace high expectations by providing opportunities and channels while encouraging them to believe in themselves and their capabilities. The one-week intensive course at Heller includes various training sessions and student-led activities aimed at breaking down biases and uncovering their potential. During the school year, students are participating in college classes at various institutions in the area. At Brandeis, they will receive a certificate for their work in a class focusing on racial/intersectional determinants of inequity.
  • Mental health and racial equity research: The Heller EID Office is conducting action research with the collaboration of Waltham High School. The goal of this research is to assess the impact of racism and discrimination on youth mental health. Through this research, the Office of EID has provided workshops and training to youth and other groups within the Waltham community.