Researchers, educators, faculty, and staff of the UW-Madison Division of Extension are part of a nationwide land-grant Extension service that makes up the largest corps of community-based educators and researchers across Tribal Nations, the U.S. and its associated territories. It is imperative for Extension to play an even more active role in redressing historical disparities, adapting to shifts in state demographics, and tailoring programming needs to address new and emergent issues. We recognize the need for strategic and coordinated actions that help us form a more equitable, anti-racist, non-biased, and inclusive organization. We are committing ourselves to explicit action in the following areas:
- Denouncing racism and bigotry on multiple levels and in all aspects of our work, and promoting a shared understanding of how they not only run contrary to our organizational values but undermine our institutional credibility for strengthening and maintaining trust with our partners and members of the public.
- Increasing our investment in staff’s understanding of issues that shape the historical, social, political context of Extension in Wisconsin, and how they influence our capacity to serve the public good.
- Greater focus on reducing barriers and expanding access to Extension programs and services, with attention to Wisconsin residents and communities who have not historically benefitted from our current presence, programs, resources, and research in different areas of the state.
- Recognizing opportunities to redress long-standing gaps in attracting, hiring, and retaining a diverse workforce.
- Establishing greater accountability measures for generating positive, sustainable change that benefits Extension as a workplace, and the value and quality of our work.
Specifically, Extension is moving forward on the following nine initiatives to detail our commitment and action:
- Providing staff and stakeholders with an expanded understanding of the Land-Grant System history in the U.S. and in Wisconsin, including its foundation upon ideas that perpetuate institutionalized forms of racism and settler colonialism.
- Establishing education with specific attention to deepening understandings of power and privilege, racialized Identity, intersectionality, Whiteness, anti-Blackness, inclusive leadership practices, and other issues.
- Funding educational initiatives and research projects that include efforts focusing on countering the systemic effects of racism and bigotry.
- Developing a statewide anti-racism and anti-bigotry resource library. You can see this library on our website.
- Developing staff capacity focused on design and delivery of culturally responsive curricula and educational programming.
- Developing a bias and hate reporting platform for staff to report issues that undermine our commitment to promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all employees, volunteers, and participants.
- Creating an institutional platform to clarify and underscore Extension’s position and commitment to inclusivity and engaging in anti-racism work.
- Creating a task force for inclusive recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies to support efforts for improving and expanding strategies that attract, build, and sustain a more diverse workforce.
- Expanding opportunities for student engagement through Extension’s internship programs.
We will have more to share about the initiatives and their implementation in the coming weeks and months.