The Department of the History of Art commits to building a diverse and welcoming community in which all members are valued and supported equally. We strive to cultivate and maintain mutual understanding within our community, as well as to support faculty and students who revitalize the Department by challenging the assumptions of our field and institution. We embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), as well as anti-racism, as core values of our practice, and we actively oppose all forms of discrimination.
Through our research and teaching we continue to express our openness to studying art made by all people everywhere at all times. At the same time, we believe that interrogating and challenging our discipline’s racist, sexist, and imperialist roots is central to our scholarly and pedagogical mission. As a community, we commit to assiduously questioning, revising, and renewing our discipline and, where appropriate, to rejecting inherited assumptions and habits of mind.
To affirm these commitments, the Department convened a committee of faculty members and graduate students in order to review the current admissions procedures. They were tasked with making recommendations to foster DEIB, which include greater collaboration with public schools and postsecondary institutions enrolling populations with significant percentages of undergraduate minority students (https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/edlite-minorityinst.html). We also have held a department-wide teach-in series alongside mandatory diversity training, and internal discussions of anti-racist pedagogy.
Furthermore, the department is actively reconfiguring the curricula of study at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Instead of attempting a single definitive sequence of survey classes, the Department commits to offering at least three different introductory undergraduate courses each year, addressing a broad geographical and chronological range of material. The traditional graduate “Methods & Theories” course has been replaced with the “First-Year Colloquium,” which interrogates the concept of canonical art history.
Our 2021-2022 initiatives aimed at furthering DEIB and anti-racism have included the Woman/Artist conference that explored the place of gender in the history of art and art production, and a student-led workshop on anti-racism pedagogy, which focused upon our practices within the classroom. The department also co-hosted with the Yale School of Art the on-line symposium Making Art History Now. This day-long event, generously supported by Yale’s FAS Dean’s Office and the Poorvu Center, featured an international array of leading art historians and art practitioners who considered how our discipline may respond with care to current social, political, and environmental crises.
We commit to a dynamic, continuous dialogue within our department, among our communities at Yale and in New Haven, and with the broader discipline of art history. This statement and the above initiatives—composed and organized by both students and faculty—will continue to be revisited and expanded on a regular basis.