Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awareness Week & Request for Proposals

Message to USC Faculty, Staff, and Students

From: Charles F. Zukoski, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Camille Rich, Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

We are proud to announce the Fifth Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awareness Week (DEI Week), scheduled for March 8-12, 2021. Our theme this year is Diversity United: Race, Social Justice and the Future of American Equality. DEI Week discussions this year will explore how race discrimination, in a variety of forms, profoundly shapes our experiences as members of the USC community, our understanding of America as a nation, and our obligations as citizens of the world. We invite interested parties to submit proposals for sessions here by January 31, 2021.

As in prior years, we welcome a wide range of proposals; however, this year’s focus on race is critical given our current challenges. American society is wrestling with discussions about anti-blackness, police violence, and immigration policies targeting Latinx, Black, Asian and Muslim communities, as well as globalization and international tensions such as the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Honestly taking about race is critical to building the meaningful bonds required for learning and sharing. We know that our discussions in this year’s DEI Week will better prepare us to forge a community that is united in its diversity, one that builds connections based on mutual recognition, understanding and respect.

All aspects of the diversity continuum will be explored this year. Our task is to explore intersectionality: how race often combines with other elements of difference to cause harm. Consequently, we will feature proposals that consider how race combined with disability, veteran’s status, gender identity, sexuality, class, immigration status and other features of marginalization shape our respective experiences.

Programming options will be diverse as well, including sponsored lectures and professional development exercises. In the past, we have hosted immersion and training sessions, panels and roundtables, as well as music, theater, and virtual reality experiences, all celebrating USC’s commitment to giving diverse perspectives respect, space and voice. Our mission is to provide sessions that assist the USC community in negotiating and handling difficult conversations about contentious issues. These sessions are designed to help our community better recognize, celebrate, and advocate for DEI in various contexts, including facilitating respectful classroom discussions about challenging topics, recruitment and hiring efforts, constructing transparent and inclusive governance processes, and cultivating meaningful dialogue about equity. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive range of options, and provide experiences that meet the needs of faculty, staff, alumni and students.

We take this opportunity on the fifth anniversary of the DEI Week program to thank all of our partners from prior years that have helped to make DEI Week a USC institution. These partners include the Diversity Liaison Network, the Center for Excellence in Research, the Center for Excellence in Teaching, the Shoah Foundation and many talented faculty, staff and students.  This year we continue our invaluable partnership with Student Services and Alumni Relations in providing targeted programming highlighting specific affinity groups and special populations.  We also welcome our new partners, the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law and Policy and USC’s Working Group on University Culture.

Because of the challenges of COVID-19, all programming for this year’s DEI Week will be offered online via USC’s Zoom platform. The total number of sessions will be capped at 100. The specific requirements for proposals can be found in the enclosed attachment and on our website, https://deiweek.usc.edu/.  

All proposal questions should be sent to DEIweek@usc.edu and will be routed to the appropriate party. Faculty, administrator, and staff-focused proposals will be reviewed by Associate Provost Rich and Clinical Professor and Diversity Liaison for the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Renée Smith-Maddox. Student and alumni proposals will be routed to the appropriate co-sponsor organizers for their review and authorization.

Please continue to check for updates to the schedule at the DEI Week website, including the announcement of our Keynote Speaker and other special events.

All are welcome to submit; all are welcome to attend. We look forward to an engaging and productive week.

cc: Office of the President
Academic Deans
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team
Academic Senate
Staff Assembly
GSG President
USG President


How do I submit a proposal for DEI Week 2021?

Proposals for sessions are being accepted through January 31, 2021. Interested parties should go to our Request for Proposals page here. Please have the following information ready for your submission:

  1. Session title, type, and fifty-word abstract outlining the subject matter and objectives
  2. Presenters’ exact titles and institutional affiliations
Preference in the selection process will be given to sessions that offer the following:
  1. Adopt a how-to approach outlining a specific practice, strategy or model
  2. Engage participants with evidence of “what works”
  3. Facilitate reflection and foster engagement that helps translate abstract ideas into practice
  4. Advance the DEI initiatives in a particular school, unit or course
  5. Foster discovery and problem solving through idea sharing and community building, and encourage immediate short term as well as long term dialogue
Who will benefit from DEI Week 2021?

DEI Week programming is designed to appeal to a broad array of interests and inform people with different levels of exposure and different levels of understanding about diversity issues. All are welcome. However, faculty, administrators, alumni and student leaders are especially likely to benefit from our programming, including:

  • Persons that have served or are currently serving on search and hiring committees;
  • Persons that have served or are currently serving on interview and selection panels for student admissions, awards and scholarships;
  • Persons that have served or would like to serve as a USC Diversity Liaison, or persons that would like to serve on student, alumni or faculty development committees;
  • Persons teaching classes or serving as teaching assistants in courses where diversity, equity, and inclusion are subject matter topics;
  • Persons that would like to update or enhance course offerings to better address and explore DEI issues as they arise in the classroom and/or office environment;
  • Persons that provide services to highly diverse student populations;
  • Persons interested in exploring new strategies and best practices to increase diversity in enrollment and hiring;
  • Persons that have received criticism about potential bias or insensitivity to others; and
  • Persons planning new educational initiatives, business innovations, or research projects and want to explore whether these new ventures are properly responsive to potential DEI issues.
For further questions, please feel free to email the organizers at DEIweek@usc.edu.