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 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, and inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism as core values of our practice, and we actively oppose all forms of discrimination.
We reaffirm and express through our research and teaching 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 reflect these commitments, the Department convened a committee of faculty members and graduate students in order to review the current admissions procedures. They are tasked with making recommendations that will foster DEI, 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.
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 four 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 idea of canonical art history.
Other 2020-2021 initiatives aimed at furthering DEI and anti-racism have included the “Futures in Art History” course dedicated to events and workshops providing fair guidance in professional development and the “Art. Race. Violence” speaker series, which attended to topics including race in the early modern period, monuments in Martinique, blackness in colonial Latin America, and contemporary art. At the weekly Alumni Research Forum, invited alumni speakers have discussed topics including art and social justice, the Yale Prison Education Initiative, and Contemporary Native American Art.
We commit to a dynamic, continuous dialogue within our department, 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 be revisited and expanded on a regular basis.