About the Initiative

“The Embodying Antiracism Initiative supports the deep work of fostering an equitable and antiracist community. The project provides resources to faculty, community members, guest artists/scholars, and students doing the often-unseen antiracist organizing labor,” said Jennifer Calienes, Interim Director of the Center for the Arts.

Since its founding in 1831, Wesleyan University has been recognized for its academic rigor and its commitment to addressing critical societal issues. Wesleyan faculty, staff, and students have long shared the belief that creative ideas can raise political consciousness and, in the best of cases, improve the world. The University looks to encapsulate an environment and community of growth, where we maximize not only academic and civic potential but continue to do so through an antiracist lens.

The Embodying Antiracism Initiative is an interdisciplinary leadership training and peer support initiative that will use the arts to develop and strengthen antiracism practices. The program was launched in 2021 by the Provost’s Office and the Center for the Arts, with support from the Mellon Foundation. The initiative sets out to uphold the values of antiracism at Wesleyan and to discover how our campus can further grow in support of these values.

The three year initiative being developed in collaboration with three organizational partners—Urban Bush Women, Junebug Productions, and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond—whose innovative work actively engages in the practices of unmasking and undoing racism. The initiative is guided by an Organizing Team of faculty and staff.

A central focus of the initiative is the 2022–2023 interdisciplinary fellowship program made up of
faculty, students, community members, and visiting artists who have a demonstrated interest in
and commitment to the study and practice of dismantling racism throughout their daily practices.

This inaugural cohort of Fellows will participate in core activities including:

The research component of the Think Tank is expected to generate a wide range of art, publications, and events—performances, films, scholarly papers, land-based projects, and/or an antiracism collective. The work of the Think Tank will be collected and disseminated in an open-access digital site and work will be highlighted through various University and community partners and platforms. Research seminars at the Think Tank will borrow methods from Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities and College of the Environment, where a locus of faculty, fellows, and students can work on collaborative projects that address specific problems, share research and innovative curricular ideas, advance scholarship, and produce material outcomes.

Throughout the course of the fellowship, the cohort will participate in monthly research seminars to discuss and share their work. In March 2023, all Fellows will participate in a culminating Leadership Intensive that is designed to highlight their research, change campus community culture, and innovate research practices through the arts.