Berman Institute Launches Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity Committee
“The events of 2020 provided a stark reminder of the fear, hurt, racism and oppression that the Black community, Indigenous Peoples, and people of color have lived with for centuries in our society,” said Jeffrey Kahn, Director of the Berman Institute. “As an academic institution, we are committed to dismantling structural oppression and racist policies and practices within our institution, community, and in bioethics.”
To formalize that commitment and coordinate efforts, Kahn appointed a new committee of faculty, staff, and students, providing leadership on inclusion, diversity and anti-racism issues for the Berman Institute and its programs. Chaired by Assistant Director for Science Programs Debra Mathews, the group is liaison to the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity (IDARE) Committee, with members also working on University-wide efforts.
The BI IDARE Committee is committed to helping the BI engage in critical conversations about racism and other forms of oppression, exploring the ways such dynamics play out within our community, identifying what is required to align our actions with our values, and making clear, actionable recommendations for change and accountability to foster and build a strong, diverse community of scholars, staff, trainees, and students in which each member feels they belong and can thrive.
“The work of the IDARE Committee will never be complete,” reads a portion of the body’s mission statement. “We continuously and iteratively establish goals and work to achieve them, but our ultimate purpose is to incorporate IDARE values into the mission and vision of the Berman Institute itself and into bioethics as a discipline. Though the multiple catastrophic events of 2020 served as our catalyst, we are not a special interest group. Rather, we exist to hold our institution, discipline and, importantly, ourselves, accountable to these values in perpetuity. Our structure and our independence ensure that this work will continue well beyond this moment.”
The Berman Institute also has an Anti-Racism Reading Group, the focus of which is not inward, on the institution, but rather outward, on the broader intellectual community of which the Institute is a part. The Reading Group is oriented towards questions of the role of inclusion, diversity, anti-racism, and equity in the field of bioethics and our scholarship.
Kahn said the IDARE Committee’s establishment and the creation of the reading group are just two examples of the initiatives that the Berman Institute will undertake and build on in the coming months to help to address structural racism in society.
“Issues of justice, of ethics more generally, and of public policy are all features of what bioethics is and what the Berman Institute exists to do,” he said. “Our work needs to focus more squarely and intentionally on the issues of inequality and social justice, both as they relate to the current moment and how they inform the society we want to build.”