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Unit Contributions to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion

Academic Years: 
1. Faculty: 

The Linguistics department faculty has developed a standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Individual faculty membership on the committee is determined on a yearly basis.

Although we have made some strides in recent years, our department is acutely aware of the shortage of underrepresented groups on our faculty. We are hoping to partially address this in our upcoming faculty search by active solicitation and consideration of candidates from such groups.

The research programs of many of our faculty are inherently invested in diversity in various ways, including (but not limited to): work with underrepresented communities within the US and around the world on documenting and revitalizing their languages; the description and empirical investigation of stigmatized varieties of English such as African American English; empirical investigation into the bases of prejudice against speakers of accented language varieties such as Spanish-accented English, etc.

2. Staff: 

Staff membership on the departmental Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is encouraged, and the precise staff person(s) serving on the committee is determined on a yearly basis.

3. Graduate Programs: 

Graduate student membership on the departmental Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is encouraged, and the precise graduate student(s) serving on the committee is determined on a yearly basis.

We actively recruit graduate students from underrepresented groups in both our Language Teaching program (MA) and our Theoretical (PhD) program. We have traditionally focused on Native American and international linguistic minorities as might be expected from the international reputation of the department and following the principle that members of language minorities, with their cultural acumen, are especially well suited to carry out the analysis and description of their languages. We are making improvements to our program to better involve and engage students from other underrepresented US groups. For example, a number of African American UO students take the department's Swahili courses and can become interested in linguistics through that connection.

Finally, for many reasons, especially but not only financial, it is rather difficult for prospective students to attend our graduate program coming from overseas. The Department is nevertheless committed to facilitating access to our program to prospective students from a diversity of international backgrounds. For example, in Summer 2017, our PhD student from the minority Boro tribe of North East India successfully defended his dissertation and is now employed at Gauhati University in Assam State.

4. Undergraduate Programs: 

Undergraduate student membership on the departmental Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is encouraged, and the precise undergraduate student(s) serving on the committee is determined on a yearly basis. The profile and efforts for our undergraduate program are similar to that of our graduate program.

We also promote diversity among diverse student populations through undergraduate classes such as "Language and Power", "Language and Society in the USA", and "Languages of the World". These, and most of our other lower division courses in Linguistics, convey research-based messages of inclusion. In turn, we expect that these efforts will result in increased enrollment of students of underrepresented minorities in Linguistics courses.

5. Outreach and Partnerships: 

Various faculty members and graduate students in the department have created a Language Diversity Ambassador Program, an outreach program for the UO campus and the broader community, aimed at raising awareness about linguistic prejudice and strategies to prevent it. We plan to offer workshops and trainings regarding the impacts of linguistic prejudice. As the program progresses, we aim to recruit more undergraduate students to serve as pivotal leaders in this effort.

The Department of Linguistics has also been engaged throughout its history in partnerships with Native/Indigenous/First Nations/Adivasi/ “Fourth World” communities in the US and throughout North and South America, Africa, and South/Southeast Asia. Originally this engagement consisted primarily in research by Oregon academics on undocumented languages, but over the past 20 years we have been increasingly involved with community language development programs and with “capacity development”, providing training for community-based researchers, and, ultimately, trying to serve students from these communities through our undergraduate and graduate programs.

6. Other: 

The commitment of the Linguistics Department to promoting diversity and inclusion is reflected in the leadership role it is taking on as the host of upcoming international upcoming international conferences on campus (e.g., Breath of Life, a workshop devoted to the restoration of Native American languages; New Ways of Analyzing Variation, the premier North American sociolinguistics conference). Our hope is that these efforts will increase our department’s visibility as a leader in these issues, making the department an appealing place to be for a range of potential students and faculty members.