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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Like Vanderbilt University, the Department of Political Science defines diversity broadly to include experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and identities. We believe such diversity among our faculty and students enhances the intellectual experience and achievements of this academic community. As such, we are committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action, and we encourage individuals from diverse, under-represented populations to apply to our program.

This graduate program seeks to:

  1. Continually improve the climate for current students and faculty from underrepresented groups;
  2. Recruit more graduate students from underrepresented groups to the department and discipline.
  3. Give all students and faculty the tools to succeed in a diverse discipline. 

We work hard to support all of our students, especially those who face challenges or bias as a result of their backgrounds or identities. We have a gender-diverse faculty, with a large percentage of women and non-conforming persons in our faculty relative to the wider discipline, and women at all ranks in the tenure ladder. We host safe spaces and social environments for discussing issues related to gender in the discipline. We also have professionalization programming to speak to issues relevant for all types of underrepresented minorities, whether relevant to identity diversity, gender, family status, or other varieties of diversity, and all students who seek to support diversity and inclusion in the academy.

Many of our faculty participate in and even lead diversity initiatives in the university and the discipline of political science. We are leaders in Visions in Methodology, Women’s Advancement at Vanderbilt, and a variety of social justice initiatives around Nashville.

Furthermore, our program assumes students enter our program with various forms of preparation, so we begin methods training and professionalization from the ground up. This helps to support students who are first-generation college students, those who speak English as a second (or third!) language, students with degrees in other disciplines, and other students who may have had different types of training in research skills. Our programming, like the week-long Math Camp prior to the first semester and the carefully designed sequence of methods courses, our professionalization seminar, and our apprentice-like approach to research and teaching assistantships help support students of all backgrounds succeed in the PhD program. Many of our faculty have received well-deserved awards for their prowess at teaching and mentoring, which benefits all students in our program.

We also foster a culture of cross-cutting interests and multiple identities. Students take courses in three fields and so participate in multiple intellectual communities within the department. Students meet and interact with faculty in all subfields, preventing intellectual or cultural silos within the department.