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June 2020

Two weeks ago today, the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer mobilized activists across the world. Some of these activists have spent decades working to  dismantle racist systems, and some are just awakening to the cause, but all are saying enough is enough. After the many recorded instances of police brutality we've witnessed since Rodney King - and all the unrecorded instances before and since - attempts at meaningful police reform across the US have failed. And yet, in the past two weeks here in Minneapolis, we've seen the University of Minnesota, the public school district, and the parks department cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department, and just yesterday the city council pledged to disband the MPD and move toward a community-led public safety model. The magnitude of those changes in such a short amount of time (after such a long time) is something amazing. This is a watershed moment.

What does this mean for us as academics, and for our network? How can we leverage the expertise and power of our connections to spotlight the legacies of systemic racism in our institutions and advocate for transformational reforms? 

The BTA network exists to share resources and enact change. Read below for thoughts from BTA Director Bonnie Keeler on how our network can engage in conversations about transformation beyond our original three themes. We will be using this and future newsletters to share resources to combat bias and promote anti-racist institutions. For starters, see templates from Rachel Cargle on holding employers accountable to racial justice. The academic institution example is focused on holding faculty accountable - the door is open to develop one targeting upper admin. Has someone already done this at your university? Do you have a different example of a university or department enacting meaningful change? Tell us about it here so we can amplify your action across the network. Thank you!

Transformation in times of crisis

by Bonnie Keeler

A lifetime ago, in January of 2019, we opened our first Beyond the Academy workshop by envisioning future scenarios for higher education. We discussed threats such as declining public funding, rising student debt and income inequality, the increasing polarization of society, and eroding trust in science and the media. We did not discuss the potential impacts of a global pandemic. We did not discuss how universities should respond when racially-motivated violence and police brutality threaten our communities....
Read blog post

Opportunities & Announcements

  • RFP results -  Thank you to those who submitted proposals to our RFP to help determine allocations of BTA funds going forward. Congratulations to Lydia Olander + team and Lizzie King + team for their winning proposals! Lydia's team is developing an assessment tool for measuring "engagement" at the university level, and Lizzie's team is developing a curriculum for a course on how to engage in co-produced science. Thank you to the steering committee members who helped review submissions.
  • NATURA collab - Beyond the Academy is officially joining NATURA, an international network of networks devoted to Nature-based Solutions for Urban Resilience in the Anthropocene. Like BTA, NATURA is committed to knowledge exchange and spanning the research-practice divide. Check out their website and webinar series for more info.
  • New look - THANK YOU to everyone who gave feedback on new logo designs. You can download source files for the chosen designs and the official style guide from our website. You can also save a copy of a Google Slides template incorporating our official colors and fonts here. Strike a pose, BTA!

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