Bard Graduate Center exists to promote the study of decorative arts, design history, and material culture through research, teaching, exhibitions, events, and publications. BGC embraces diversity, equity, access, and inclusion as essential and necessary components of a learning community in which its students, faculty, staff, and visitors can engage with all facets of this mission. As an institution, Bard Graduate Center acknowledges that discrimination in social and educational systems based on race, gender, age, religion, class, differences in physical abilities and approaches to learning, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual orientation has limited the ability of some to fully participate in our organization and in our fields of study. To materialize our pledge to create a just and inclusive learning community, we commit to:
  • Studying the impacts of systems of discrimination on our understanding of the fields of decorative arts, design history, and material culture.
  • Including the voices, works, and ideas of communities and cultures historically marginalized in liberal arts education.
  • Creating policies, programs, and opportunities for BGC students, faculty, staff, and visitors that ensure that diversity, equity, access, and inclusion thrive.
BGC acknowledges that throughout its history, and particularly since 2014, students and alumni have expressed concerns about issues of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion, and the institution has been slow to respond to those concerns. In his September 9, 2020 letter to BGC alumni, Dean Peter N. Miller wrote, “I know there is a great deal of pain out there, and hurt. I am deeply sorry for what BGC has done to contribute to that. I know we cannot erase our mistakes, and yet we have to start somewhere if we are to get to a better place.”

The initiatives below represent BGC’s current efforts to improve diversity, equity, access, and inclusion throughout the institution, and this webpage represents our efforts to make our work in this arena more transparent.

Curriculum
In 2021, Bard Graduate Center faculty members have introduced a new course, “Unsettling Things: Expanding Conversations in Studies of the Material World” and together with the Curriculum team of the DEAI Working Group, have convened conversations to reflect on the Alumni Dialogues and to discuss teaching.
DEAI Updates
Students and alumni have repeatedly advocated for greater diversity, equity, accessibilty, and inclusion at BGC over the past several years. During the summer of 2020, in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and the police killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and in response to a subsequent open letter penned by BGC alumni, the institution began engaging in regular communications about its DEAI work. Updates will be posted here and included in the institutional newsletter, which is sent by email in February, April, June, August, October, and December. If you would like to receive the institutional newsletter, sign up here.
DEAI Working Group

History of the DEAI Working Group

In 2017, Bard Graduate Center hired Ama Codjoe as a consultant to support work with youth development at BGC. She helped to recruit the first class of the Lab for Teen Thinkers, and she created the education framework. During this time, BGC experienced some tensions in the gallery between gallery visitors, gallery educators, and security staff that revealed the need for racial justice training.

BGC held its first racial justice training in the fall of 2017. It was mandatory for BGC gallery educators and included first-year MAs. In 2018, we held a staff racial justice training. After this workshop, a small group of staff and faculty, including Tim Ettenheim, Emily Reilly, Carla Repice, Chandler Small, Nina Stritzler-Levine, and Catherine Whalen met with Codjoe three times to discuss DEAI at BGC. We recommended that BGC’s Management Committee establish a DEAI Working Group, and it was born in January of 2019. Members from every department at BGC who were not part of Management Committee were asked to participate, with an effort to represent diversity as it existed at BGC.

During the first half of 2019, the group talked about organizational culture, the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. It also discussed what builds community and what breaks it down, and the types of behaviors that create functional teams: making commitments, holding each other accountable, attending to results, creating trust, engaging in conflict. In addition, the group wrote up a community agreement and created an action list. From there, the work of the group became more project-based.

Adapted from a presentation by Carla Repice, Senior Manager of Education, Engagement, and Interpretation, at a BGC Alumni Dialogue in October 2020

DEAI Working Group Now

Currently, there are three teams in the Working Group pursuing projects related to curriculum, hiring, and student recruitment. The group includes Samantha Baron (director of administration), Amy Estes (director of marketing and communications), Minna Lee (associate director of development), Meredith Linn (assistant professor and director of masters studies), Earl Martin (associate curator), Caspar Meyer (professor), Laura Minsky (associate director of research programs), Emily Reilly (director of public engagement), Carla Repice (senior manager of education, engagement, and interpretation), Hellyn Teng (web manager), and Heather Topcik (director of the library). Carla Repice facilitates the group’s work and meetings, and Ama Codjoe continues as a consultant to the group.
Fellowships
The Fields of the Future fellowship program aims to help promote diversity and inclusion in the advanced study of the material world that specifically prioritizes applicants from historically underrepresented groups in the field, and/or projects of related thematic focus. 2020–21 fellows include Beeta Baghoolizadeh, Elizabeth Guffey, Yannis Hamilakis, and Charmaine A. Nelson.
Land Acknowledgement
At Bard Graduate Center we study the material world, seeking knowledge about the past and striving for critical understanding of our present and presence here.

We respectfully acknowledge this place as Lenapehoking—the ancestral homeland of the Lenni-Lenape—and recognize New York City as a past, current, and future home for many Indigenous people.

Land Acknowledgements honor customary Indigenous protocols for the thanking of hosts and call attention to ongoing realities of colonial dispossession. We also remember and honor the essential contributions of others who travelled to these lands against their free will.

Critically examining our placement in the historical fabric of New York City is part of our effort to work toward more equitable futures.

Adopted by the Bard Graduate Center faculty in October 2020
Secondary School and Baccalaureate Training and Partnerships
Bard Graduate Center has established several programs for high school and undergraduate students in public schools and universities. These programs are part of BGC’s Fields of the Future Institute (FFI), a new initiative that aims to expand the sources, questions, practices, perspectives, practitioners, and audiences of interdisciplinary humanities scholarship. FFI operates through a series of programming initiatives that explore how our intellectual landscape should change by posing new questions and suggesting new ways to answer old questions, and by bringing new voices into the scholarly conversation. FFI’s initiatives intersect with BGC’s DEAI efforts in that many of them explicitly aim to bring more Black, Indigenous, and people of color to the fields of decorative arts, design history, and material culture and elevate their voices. The FFI programs for high school and undergraduate university students that intersect with BGC’s DEAI efforts include:
  • the Lab for Teen Thinkers, a public humanities program geared toward New York City public school students that prepares rising juniors and seniors for future academic and professional success through paid civic development, mentoring, and internship opportunities
  • BGC’s collaboration with CUNY-LaGuardia Community College, in which LaGuardia faculty in the social sciences, staff in the LaGuardia archives, and BGC faculty, staff, and doctoral students engage LaGuardia students in a two-course sequence that leads to an exhibition in the BGC Gallery or online.