The inaugural leadership of the Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity (RDI) was announced by Amanda Woodward, Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences on April 25, 2022. Cathy Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Distinguished Service Professor, will serve as Chair. Leora Auslander, the Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor, will serve as Associate Chair.
A political scientist, Cohen has produced groundbreaking scholarship at the intersection of race, class, politics, and sexuality. Most recently her work has focused on the challenges faced by young people, interrogating their social and political perspectives as a means of understanding the broader political situation in the United States. She has previously served as chair of the Department of Political Science and as director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. She was also the University’s first deputy provost for Graduate Education.
An historian, Auslander focuses on the intersection of material culture, everyday life, and politics in the Atlantic world, seeking to explain how and why everyday things have become catalysts for conflict, means of expressing identities and constructing selves, vehicles for dissenting opinions, and sites of unexpected state intervention. Auslander co-chaired the faculty committee that proposed RDI and was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.
In the coming weeks, Cohen and Auslander will convene RDI core faculty to develop a 5-year plan for the department that includes faculty hiring and undergraduate and graduate curriculum development. The leadership team will also begin the work of outlining governance practices, defining new research initiatives, establishing visiting professors and a postdoctoral fellowship, and collectively shaping the intellectual agenda for the department.
The Council of the University Senate completed discussion regarding a new Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity (RDI) and voted to approve the proposal on February 22nd. This action, in keeping with the university’s faculty-led process for creating academic departments, formally established RDI in the Division of the Social Sciences. While RDI will be an important department in the Division of the Social Sciences, it will have an expansive agenda that centers faculty, students, and research from across the university.