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History of Art & Visual Culture Department Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI)


Coordinated by Faculty Members in the History of Art & Visual Culture Department

The History of Art and Visual Culture faculty affirms its commitment to recognizing, addressing, and combatting all forms of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, and ability. The department collectively seeks to empower students, colleagues, and our campus community toward the goal of creating an inclusive, respectful, and equitable environment. We recognize that the above types of discrimination and resulting oppression are not limited to the U.S. These are global challenges that impact a broad range of constituencies. Therefore, as a department, we share an ethical obligation to create an environment that addresses the unique forms of bias that affect our diverse community.

History of this document
This document was prepared based on surveys sent out by a two-person faculty DEI committee to faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate representatives in Winter 2022. A discussion of survey findings and the faculty’s reflections on the issues that they raised was held during a departmental meeting that quarter. Additionally, the faculty DEI committee reviewed the data regarding faculty course analysis and undergraduate retention and graduation rates. The department reviewed the final document.

Prior actions
The HAVC Department recognizes that statements of commitment are only one step toward achieving these goals and that consistent action is needed in order for positive change to occur. This is especially true in the contexts of education and the study of visual culture. Both have been used to create narratives that exclude, often in service of a politics of marginalization or erasure. In our efforts to resist and oppose such hierarchies we have:

  • Changed the name from Art History to History of Art and Visual Culture; re-naming, which was approved for fall 2003, was one of the first steps taken by the department to be more inclusive and less Euro-centric (as the category “art” possesses a distinctly Western genealogy).
  • Taken voluntary training in unlearning biases, administered by UCSC’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, with the full participation of a united staff and faculty (Winter 2021)
  • Structured our curriculum around the complex intersections between cultures and identities; this is an ongoing task that precipitates rich discussion among the faculty at several annual junctures, including the preparation of the CLP and FTE requests as well as in discussions responding to external reviews.
  • Created a concentration in Curation, Heritage, and Museum studies in which students learn about decolonizing approaches to curation and heritage. This concentration allows HAVC majors to apply their visual culture knowledge in more specialized classes that focus on the practicalities and politics of collecting, display, and community care.
  • All faculty integrate discussions of equity and power into their courses.

As a department, we are committed to sustaining efforts to foster change and to consistently acknowledge how various forms of discrimination impact our department, campus, and the community at large—while also addressing the negative effects that forms of bias have on students, faculty, and staff members. We understand this to be an ongoing effort, which is likely never to be fully completed. It is, however, an urgent aspiration requiring action.

10-Year Plan: Goals for Change and Self-Evaluation

The following list of items comprise areas that have been identified as priorities for the next 10 years. Based upon faculty, staff and student feedback, the DEI committee has pinpointed the following areas where tangible improvement can be made—with the aim of strengthening the History of Art and Visual Culture Department, and moving it closer to realizing its stated values and commitments.


  • Work to strengthen coverage of specific fields that are underserved.
  • Strive to diversify the faculty ranks.
  • Implement a more structured faculty mentoring plan.
  • Take more measures to ensure that pre-tenure faculty members are all on equal footing and apprised of available resources and opportunities that will enable them to succeed.
  • Rethink how the quality, quantity, and equity of departmental service is considered. Service should be understood as a means for every faculty member to be fully integrated into the fabric of the department, to understand how it runs, and be posed to be a future leader.
  • Plan for increased rotation of departmental service roles while also being flexible; the department chair (potentially in consultation with the DEI committee) will consider faculty requests and rationale for particular service assignments.
  • Form a rotating faculty DEI committee and rotating graduate student DEI committee. Ideally, both DEI committees will be in direct conversation and will share ideas that will strengthen the departmental culture.
  • Have an annual meeting dedicated to discussing DEI concerns, preceded by anonymous feedback from the department community. Feedback received outside this mechanism will be brought up at department meetings in a timely manner and, if non-confidential, will be recorded in the meeting minutes.
  • Continue to practice informed self-evaluation with respect to DEI throughout the department community through various means.


  • Continue to enrich our curriculum by offering a range of courses that consider both geographically diverse visual cultures and a variety of methodological approaches.
  • Work to provide effective mentoring for graduate students and improve communication about program requirements and processes.
  • Continue efforts to build community among the undergraduate students.
  • Develop strategies to address the achievement gap among our students through mentoring, effective communication, pedagogy, and professional development.
  • Recognize the labor of all faculty in contributing to DEI teaching, service, and research.

Requests for DEI Funding:

To make progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion in HAVC, we request funding for the following (in order of priority):

  • $5,000 to fund an outside facilitator to conduct the annual DEI meeting for two years and do the preliminary surveys and interviews of graduate students, faculty, staff, and undergraduate students. The first year would be focused on creating the new process and the second for an evaluation of the process.
  • $5000 per year for three years to further the pedagogical and professional development of both undergraduate and graduate students addressing DEI concerns.
  • $3000 for student-initiated departmental programs and events.
  • $3000 to solidify and expand engagement with DEI principles in the VMCC lecture series
  • There is an ongoing need for DEI funding supplements for accepted graduate students to help diversify our graduate student population.