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Skidmore College

Curricular, Co-curricular, and Educational Projects

Initial goals

  1. Support and lead anongoingeffort of education, engagement, and discussion on the major issues and histories of antiracism, unconscious bias, and racial justice, including a speaker series, a common reading, and ongoing training and coaching. 
  2. Fund and support series and initiatives organized by the Black Studies program focused on issues of race and justice. 
  3. Welcome and support proposals from the entire community to create projects and programs supportive of the Racial Justice Initiative.
Key Progress Efforts in Motion
Skidmore has hosted a variety of speakers, trainers, and experts for lectures, conversations, and events, including Kevin Young, Charles Johnson, Alice Wong, Ty Defoe (Giizhig), and Janaya Khan, among many others.  Commencement 2022 will feature two major speakers who will also receive Skidmore honorary degrees: Charles Johnson, noted African American novelist, philosopher, essayist, and visual artist; and Moises Kaufmann, theater activist and artist. 
The College successfully hosted In It 5 and In It 6 – a suite of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs designed to raise our cultural fluency and strengthen our community. Events include a variety of virtual and in-person speakers, training sessions, performances, films, and more.     Planning for In It 7 in October 2022 is currently underway. 
Skidmore partnered with MLK Saratoga to honor Martin Luther King Jr. through programming, including a talk titled "MLK and A Legacy of Collaborative Brilliance” by Michael Hill, professor of Africana studies and English and director of the Program in Africana Studies at Washington and Lee University.    

Members of the Skidmore community have begun engaging with shared readings and films that encourage safe dialogue.  

  • The Class of 2025’s shared summer reading was Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Anti-Racist.” The Board of Trustees read the memoir and held discussions about it as well. 
  • Skidmore retirees launched an anti-racism book discussion group. 

The RJI funded a visit to campus by Dr. Cornel West. Specific activities included a discussion with Black Studies faculty and staff, and “Going to the Griot: Conversations with Dr. Cornel West.” 


The Black Studies Program hosted a two-day seminar on “COVID-19 and the Global African World” and provided guest speakers for classes in music, international affairs, and theater. 


The American Studies Department and Black Studies Program launched the Skidmore Racial Justice Teaching Challenge (RJTC) in spring 2021. 



In spring 2021, the Racial Justice Teaching Challenge sparked participation from 63 faculty members who offered 96 courses, constituting approximately 12% of courses delivered that semester. In fall 2021, 81 faculty members took part and offered 110 courses, constituting approximately 14% of courses. Most of the College’s academic departments engaged with the challenge, from the humanities to the sciences. 

“Learning communities” launched in spring 2022 will support research, discussion, and creation of new course content through a combined effort of Skidmore faculty and staff across a variety of disciplines. Also taking part are the Tang Teaching Museum, Scribner Library, and The Center.  

In January 2022, a three-year, $1.185 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was announced to support Skidmore’s Black Studies Program and Racial Justice Teaching Challenge. The grant comes as part of the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities for All Times Initiative, which supports curricular projects in the liberal arts that help students to see and experience the applicability of humanities in their real-world social justice objectives. 

Funding for Skidmore’s project, Africana Studies and the Humanities: Transnational Explorations in Social Justice, will support the development of new courses for the College’s Black Studies Program through the launch of “learning communities” that will help faculty to refine their own understanding of new teaching methods, schools of thought, and areas of study that will diversify curriculum and illuminate social justice issues within and across disciplines.