By Eliza Tesch
On Saturday, March 7th I was able to attend the second day of the Race & Pedagogy Institute Strategic Planning Summit. I had previously attended the Race & Pedagogy National conference in fall of 2018 and I am a member of the Student Association for the Race & Pedagogy Institute, but I still wasn’t sure quite exactly what to expect from this event.
I had a great time at the Summit, and met former students and community members who were just as passionate about social justice and making tangible change in the world as I am, and exposed me to a whole wealth of information I was not aware of about activism opportunities outside of UPS, as well as the history of RPI and previous work that had been done.
The attendees of the event included several students and former students, the RPI leadership team, as well as community partners, some of whom traveled for an hour to be able to attend the event. The day I was there we went through learning, reflection, discussion about the current state of RPI, RPI’s vision and mission, and ideas for the future. We also listened to speakers, including the RPI leadership team, community members and Puget Sound students.
Our Strategic Planning Summits are pivotal in the Institute’s work as they serve as major sites where the Community Partners Forum, along with Puget Sound faculty, staff, and student partners and collaborating constituencies beyond the campus and Forum, come together to critically examine the direction of our work within a longer view. Within the context of University of Puget Sound’s new strategic plan, Leadership For a Changing World, this 2020 Summit will examine our achievements and their significance, alongside questions of what do we need to emphasize and re-imagine, and matters of capacity building and deeper embedding of the work of race and pedagogy.
Excerpt from the Invitation letter for the 2020 Planning Summit
Race and Pedagogy Institute Vision and Mission
“In our 18 years of sustained, focused, and collaborative work, the Race & Pedagogy Institute has staged a range of more than 20 summits and conferences, spawned an assortment of collaborations across academia and communities, provided a variety of educational resources for transformative pedagogy on the Puget Sound campus and beyond, brought together disparate communities to generate vigorous thinking about race equity and education, inspired a plethora of initiatives focused on the work of education and equity in both K-12 and higher education, and been one of the voices of change seeking to transform the landscape of education on our campus and beyond. All of this has been undertaken as part of our mission of educating teachers and students at all levels to think critically about race and to act to eliminate racism.” –Race & Pedagogy Website
As an attendee of this event, I had a several takeaways (in addition to my observation that the catered meals were delicious and far superior to SUB food). An event like this summit with two days of programming takes a huge amount of planning and energy to put on, and the quadrennial national conferences take YEARS to plan. What many people don’t realize, is that the leadership team of the Race & Pedagogy Institute is made up of a very small group of people who perform a very large volume of work, through the power of what seems to me to be sheer willpower.
The Race and Pedagogy Institute is an incredible organization that we are very lucky to have on our campus, and in my opinion is not given the recognition that it deserves. RPI has existed for 18 years, and has put on youth summits, the national conference, speaker series, and other important events that have been extremely beneficial to the Puget Sound community and beyond. I highly encourage anyone who is looking to get involved in social justice, specifically working towards a world without racism to get involved in RPI by joining the Student Association for the Race and Pedagogy Institute or attending community partner’s meetings.