Diversity and Inclusion


Units: 12

Description: Issue Definition: Recent events have laid bare the degree to which prejudice and discrimination continue to mar American political, social, and economic life. Fortunately, new technology and advances in the social sciences provide today’s leaders with new tools to identify, quantify, and fight discriminatory practices. Drawing upon existing courses, resources, and partnerships within CMU and the broader Pittsburgh community, the Heinz College has an opportunity to be a national leader in the development and application of 21st century tools to combat these longstanding social problems. However, there is not currently an organized framework or structure that brings these resources together into a cohesive and accessible program of coursework, community engagement, and active learning. The members of this project will design such a framework, thereby establishing the Heinz College as a destination of choice for students who want to combine a passion for justice, equity, and inclusion with training in 21st century technology and data analytics. Scope of Work: The student team would engage in four streams of work. The first will be to conduct “focus group” studies with Heinz students, especially members of historically underrepresented minority groups. These conversations will seek to better understand the needs and interests of these groups within our community, and obtain a sense of the kind of comprehensive framework of courses and activities that would appeal to them. The second stream will take an inventory of existing courses available at CMU and the University of Pittsburg that deal with discrimination from historical, cultural, philosophical, economic, and statistical perspectives. Special emphasis will be placed on courses that deal with 21st century issues such as algorithmic bias and the identification of discriminatory practices from economic or commercial data. Where important gaps exist, the student team may propose the creation of one or two courses or minis. The third stream will focus on community engagement in the Pittsburgh region. A number of energetic local nonprofit groups, including the Greater Pittsburgh chapter of the Urban League, Vibrant Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc., YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, NAACP and the Pittsburgh African-American Chamber of Commerce have spent years (or even decades) actively engaged in the promotion of a more inclusive and just community. The governments of the city and county also seek to promote a more diverse and inclusive greater Pittsburgh region, as do major employer organizations like the Allegheny Conference. Members of the student team will consider how to engage more actively with these organizations through a regular “diversity and inclusion” speaker series and through a steady stream of substantive summer internships with community organizations and local governments. This work stream will also consider how students interested in fighting discrimination and promoting equity could apply their talents through projects focused on solving real problems in our region and beyond. Examples might include studies of discrimination in police activity, student suspensions, and commercial lending. The final work stream would be to bring all of these pieces together, creating an integrated program of coursework, community engagement, and positive action that enables students passionate about equity and justice to train themselves for a lifetime of leadership in effective social change, using modern tools to fight these longstanding problems. Available Data: Each mode of analysis profiled above would rely on an associated data stream. Focus groups would draw upon the insights of existing Heinz College students and recent graduates, with an emphasis on the views and opinions of members of underrepresented minority groups. The course inventory and development stream would draw upon not only the existing course catalog of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, but also on the insights of leading scholars at these universities whose teaching and research mission connects to the domains of equity and inclusion. The community engagement section would leverage the connections that have been created in the past semester by a related systems synthesis project focused on recruitment and retention of African-American executives in the Pittsburgh region as well as the personal network of the faculty adviser. Expected Deliverable: The student team will create an integrated curricular plan for Dean Ramayya Krishnan and his leadership team. This plan will identify existing courses (and, where critical gaps exist, propose new courses or minis) that could enable Heinz students to understand the causes and consequences of discriminatory practices from multiple perspectives. It will show how students interested in this domain could educate themselves through a pathway of coursework, engage with the local community in ways that reinforce and deepen the lessons learned in the classroom, and harness the Heinz College’s strengths in analytics and technology to find new solutions to longstanding problems. Skills Required: This project offers a rare opportunity for Heinz students to work together on a project that could strengthen the ability of the Heinz College and its curriculum to contend with modern issues of equity and inclusion. It would draw upon nearly the full set of skills developed in the core curriculum, including (but not limited to) statistics, econometrics, applied economic analysis, analytical techniques from management science, cost-benefit analysis, and high-level professional communications skills.