Forging a Diverse Learning Community

Position for Leadership

YDS’s mission statement describes “a community that welcomes and affirms human diversity.” Diversity is crucial for excellence and effectiveness; we can lead the way in theological education only if our faculty, student body, community practices, and curriculum reflect the rich diversity of the world in which we live. There are a number of specific goals that we should be pursuing, along three distinct axes of diversity: race/ethnicity, denomination, and nationality. There are, of course, many other types of diversity, including gender/sexuality, to which YDS affirms its commitment and which cannot be neglected as we look and move forward. These three, however, are specific areas that we should be targeting for improvement.

Goals

Racial and Ethnic Diversity:

  1. Faculty

    • Ensure that the position in Black Religion in the African Diaspora is filled swiftly and successfully.
    • Create a new ladder faculty position in Latin American Christianity (understood to encompass either Christianity in Latin America or the Latin American religious experience in the United States) and fill that position as soon as possible. The cost is $6 million for an additional faculty line.
    • Continue to strive, through the process of new faculty hires into already established lines, to achieve a critical mass of racial/ethnic minority faculty members, as this is essential to retaining these faculty members.
    • Maintain our commitment to seeking out qualified candidates of color in all of our job searches at all levels.
  2. Students

    • Enroll a student population composed of 25% underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities.
    • Establish competitive scholarships for students from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. Seek funds to make it possible for these scholarships to provide a stipend as well as full tuition assistance. Each comprehensive scholarship would require $800,000 in endowment funds.
    • Ensure substantial staff support to enable current and incoming students from underrepresented backgrounds to negotiate the transition to life at YDS. We are obligated not only to attract racial/ethnic minority students but also to provide appropriate support services for them while they are here, so that YDS lives up to its goal of being a place where people of all backgrounds can flourish. The cost for an additional staff member is $100,000 per year for salary and benefits.
    • Develop a summer pre-orientation program modeled after that provided by Yale College, available to all interested students, to help them become accustomed to the social and academic rigors of life at YDS. This would require an endowment of $100,000.

Theological Diversity

  • Create new scholarships targeted at members of underfunded groups or denominations. These scholarships would, in principle, involve a stipend above and beyond mere tuition support. This would cost $800,000 per scholarship.
  • Secure funds to create robust formation opportunities for our major denominational groups (Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, and Roman Catholic). This would require $1 million of endowment funds per program.
  • Be aware, as we hire new faculty, of our denominational and theological diversity and try our best to achieve a more balanced faculty in this regard.

Global Diversity

  • Enroll a student population composed of 15% international students.
  • Continue to enhance support services for international students, considering the particular challenges they face as they enter an unfamiliar academic and cultural environment. (Many of the initiatives proposed under “Bridging Faith Traditions” also speak to this aspect of diversity.)
  • Develop additional scholarship funds for international students, who are not eligible for U.S. government student loans. This would require $800,000 of endowment funds per scholarship.
  • Develop opportunities for internships or temporary positions for YDS students outside of the United States.
  • Initiate and establish working relationships with key African universities.
  • Develop globally available online resources that coordinate with our initiatives in cultivating ecological responsibility, fostering transformative leadership, and bridging faith traditions.

Curriculum and Ethos

  • Continue to provide annual diversity training, in a variety of compelling formats and venues, to faculty, teaching fellows, students, and staff.
  • Develop appropriate resources to ensure that all members of the YDS community are equipped to engage diversity in positive and constructive ways both in the classroom and in community life.
  • Provide opportunities for focused faculty reflection on the structuring of theological education to foster a curriculum that is responsive to changing local and global realities.

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