2023 Symposium

The Corporate University and Shrinking BIPOC Supports: Where do We Go from Here?

Virtual Symposium | May 12–13, 2023

In the fall of 2018, BIPOC faculty from the New England region formed the Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG) to advocate for our collective success and wellbeing. Given the challenges facing BIPOC scholars and educators in the academy, we came to acknowledge the urgent need to build our own community systems of support. The first of three annual symposia was held shortly after, in spring of 2019, with generous support from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New England Humanities Consortium, and University of Connecticut. We now invite applications for this year’s virtual symposium on Friday, May 12, 2023. The following day, on Saturday, May 13, symposium goers will have a special in-person opportunity to break bread in community at one of three regional hubs (locations TBD).  

This year’s theme, “The Corporate University and Shrinking BIPOC Supports: Where Do We Go from Here?”, seeks to apprehend the challenges of withering institutional interest in fighting injustice and committing resources. Priorities are revealed in the dissonance between mass campus equity statements and habitual administrative practices of soft funding, inadequate outcomes and accountability, underfunding, and rudder-less initiatives. In another vein, equity-minded funding agencies shift their priorities as exemplified by the Ford Foundation’s new emphasis away from support for BIPOC scholars toward non-academic economic and racial justice movement-building. Our conversations will be led by stellar thinkers and advocates, such as keynote Dr. Lorgia García Peña (Tufts) and presenters Drs. Davarian Baldwin (Trinity College), Sandy Grande (UConn), and Touba Ghadessi (Wheaton College). The symposium offers a space to exchange, debate, and build energy within and across institutions. We hope to identify tools and pathways to sculpt the work environments that so often negate and diminish our contributions. Speakers will take up such concerns as the impacts of neoliberal environments on gender non-conforming faculty of color; how to navigate and transform campus climates that are unapologetically guided by employee economic precarity; racism, sexism, xeno, homo, and trans-phobias; unchecked supremacies; institutional legacies of indigenous land theft; and disempowered Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs whose role in radical organizational change must be assessed using data, rather than assumed.    

Please note space is limited to ensure a high level of interaction among participants. Preference will be given to applicants working in the humanities and from NEHC member institutions though we welcome applications from BIPOC faculty of color at any US higher education institution. Symposium fellows will receive a modest stipend to help defray costs incurred to attend the lunch (childcare, etc.), and to reward active participation for the length of the symposium.  

Interested individuals should submit a brief letter of application (PDF, up to one page) outlining their experiences as faculty of color at their institution, their interest in this year’s theme, and what they hope to gain by attending the symposium. Please also upload a short CV (3 pages max) via our application portal by March 15, 2023. All fellows will be asked to complete a questionnaire relevant to planning the symposium and for identifying specific FOCWG priorities moving forward, as well as submit their comments about the symposium shortly after it takes place. Please distribute this call widely to appropriate potential applicants. Direct inquiries to Melina Pappademos.