Equity and Inclusion: Humphrey School in Action

Social Justice

At the Humphrey School, we believe our equity and inclusion plan (updated in May 2024) is only the start of the work. Throughout our community, faculty, staff, and students are regularly engaged in research and outreach to make our world a more equitable place. This page seeks to provide more information on the Humphrey School community's efforts for bringing about justice and change. 

Supporting Faculty and Students with a Focus on Equity

The Humphrey School has established the Deans’ Equity & Inclusion Research Matching Fund, which will support our diversity, equity, and inclusion research goals. Faculty who apply for internal funding, such as the OVPR Social Justice Impact Grants, Grant-in-Aid, OED’s IDEA Multicultural Research Award, or IMAGINE research awards, can request matching funds from the Equity & Inclusion Research Matching Fund up to $10,000. Funding priorities include work that centers repair of harm and healing; resilient, reciprocal community engagement; racial equity and justice; and youth participation in civic life.

The DEI Faculty Professional Development Fund for Course Design, Pedagogy and Advising is available to any Humphrey School graduate faculty member who regularly advises students or teaches at the Humphrey School. It is intended to deepen our collective capacity to advance the commitments, priorities, goals, and specific objectives outlined in the Humphrey School’s Equity and Inclusion Strategy and Implementation Plan. This fund is designed to give faculty the opportunity to tailor development to individual needs, and is provided in addition to schoolwide professional development that will also be offered throughout the year.

This is not intended to be a competitive process and there is no specific timeline for submission of requests. To apply, simply submit the following information via email to [email protected].

  • Description of professional development event or activity (include web link if possible).
  • Date/timing of this professional development opportunity (and a note about when funding is needed)
  • Amount of funding requested (include budget if request includes multiple costs; for example: travel and conference registration)
  • Brief description of how this opportunity aligns with the school’s DEI goals and your own professional growth related to equity and inclusion.
  • Brief description of what you expect will change for you as a result of your participation (e.g, revised course syllabus, new course design, adapted teaching or advising practices, new course-community engagement strategies).

Fund recipients are required to produce a brief narrative report of impact (or evidence of change) within six months of the professional development experience. Individual requests for funding must not exceed $1,000.

The George Floyd Human Rights Scholarship was launched in May 2021 to provide internship opportunities to Humphrey School students. Made possible with support from the Carlson Family Foundation, the scholarship fund will provide financial assistance to five Humphrey School students each year. This will allow them to make a direct impact in their local community through exceptional internships with organizations that design and implement solutions to deeply entrenched human rights issues.

Racial Justice, Racial Equity, and Anti-Racism

Standing with our Community

In the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020, former Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg and UMN Law School Dean Garry Jenkins published a joint op-ed in MinnPost: To achieve justice, we need new legislation, new policies, new training, new organizational cultures.

The Minnesota Paradox 

Following the uprisings that followed Floyd's death, Professor Samuel L. Myers Jr.'s work to investigate what he calls the "Minnesota Paradox," the dichotomy of how Minnesota can be credited as both one of the best places to live and a state with some of the largest disparities for Black people, was cited by media around the globe.

Police-Community Relations

In 2016, following the tragic death of Philando Castile at the hands of police, Associate Professor Kathy Quick worked with police departments and community members on how to improve relations. After George Floyd's death, she joined Professor Myers to talk about inequities in policing and public policy, and how communities can rebuild trust (link includes video).

Criminal Justice Reform

Since the 1990s, governments and corporations in the United States have created a host of new ways to generate revenues by extracting resources, disproportionately from poor Black, indigenous, and other communities of color. Such practices include fine-centered policing, court fees, commercial bail, prison charges, civil asset forfeiture, and more. 

In June 2020, Professor Joe Soss, an expert on social inequalities, discussed the connections between predatory law enforcement practices and the political uprising that emerged in the wake of George Floyd's killing (link includes video).

Professor Soss is working on a book and an essay around this topic, entitled, Who's Looting Whom? Criminal Justice as Revenue Racket. He has two previous books on social inequities: Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberalism, Paternalism, and the Persistent Power of Race and Race and the Politics of Welfare Reform. Additionally, he is the co-author of The predatory dimensions of criminal justice and Debt of Care: Commercial Bail and the Gendered Logic of Criminal Justice Predation.

Supporting the Next Generation of Equal Rights Leaders

Minnesota civil rights icon and 2007 Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award recipient Josie Robinson Johnson has dedicated her life to promoting equality, inclusion, and breaking down barriers to opportunity. As a tribute to her lifelong leadership, the Humphrey School established the Josie Robinson Johnson Fellowship, which will support graduate students at the School who have specific interests in addressing racial inequities and injustice. Learn more about the fellowship and meet the first recipient.

Putting Human Rights First

In August 2020, Master of Human Rights students Yolanda Burkhardt, Nonkululeko Shongwe, and Vanesa Mercado Diaz joined MHR alumni Sarah Allis, Paul Olubayo, and Raven Ziegler to discuss their work to put their degrees into practice. From student activism to methods and strategies for creating meaningful change, their conversation was a global call for approaching every sector with a human rights lens (video).

Planning Equitable Cities

Associate Dean Ryan Allen and Assistant Professor Fernando Burga, two of our urban and regional planning faculty, joined alumni Denetrick Powers and LisaBeth Barajas for a conversation around the future of city planning, in relation to both equity and rebuilding after the protests (link includes video).

Another aspect of planning equitable cities, both rural and urban, involves access to food. Assistant Professor Burga has been investigating the intersection of urban planning with immigration, equity, and food systems. Despite the immense disparities faced by immigrant groups and communities of color when it comes to accessing healthy and culturally relevant food, Burga found a relative dearth of qualitative data in how these communities actually experience getting to food access points. 

Community Organizing in a Pandemic

Two Humphrey School alumni played high-profile roles in the Twin Cities metropolitan area to serve people who needed assistance at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Acooa Ellis (MPP '07) is senior vice president of community impact at Greater Twin Cities United Way, and Tim Marx (MA/JD '83) was president and CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis at that time. They talked about how their organizations pivoted when COVID-19 began impacting the communities they serve.

The pandemic also required a pivot in the work of our capstone project teams. Master of Human Rights students Katie Burke, Tonje Boerresen, and Hannah Shireman, and Master of Development Practice student Christina Licari began working with the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) of the City of Minneapolis in late 2019. OIRA asked the team to shift the focus of its work to learning how the pandemic was impacting these marginalized communities and the organizations that serve them, and how OIRA could best support this new reality. Read more about their work.

Environmental Justice

The Intersection of Equity and the Environment

What are ways that we can envision greening as a way to create a more equitable and just world? This question was explored by Associate Professor Bonnie Keeler and her CREATE Initiative, an interdisciplinary group of scholars, community leaders, and engaged researchers funded by the University of Minnesota's Grand Challenges Research Initiative that works to tackle issues at the intersection of environment and equity.

More Sustainable Energy Systems

For several years, Associate Professor Gabe Chan brought a group of Humphrey School students to Puerto Rico to study the island’s post-hurricane energy infrastructure, and explore different types of energy systems that could withstand future natural disasters.

At the intersection of both of these efforts is Assistant Professor Fayola Jacobs, whose passion is disasters—and how structural forms of oppression, such as racism, influence communities' ability to plan for, cope with, and recover from disasters.

If there is dissatisfaction with the status quo, good. If there is ferment, so much the better. If there is restlessness, I am pleased. Then let there be ideas, and hard thought, and hard work.
–Hubert H. Humphrey