University offers professors $3K to 'redesign' courses with social justice, 'anti-racist' content

University of Memphis professors are being encouraged to redesign courses to better promote commitments to diversity and social justice.

Two $1,500 stipends will be offered to 15-20 faculty members prior to class redesign and again after course completion.

University of Memphis faculty are getting $3,000 stipends to redesign courses that further diversity and “social justice.”

The university is offering stipends to 15-20 faculty in two installments after “syllabi redesign” and course completion are finalized. 

The $45,000 - $60,000 project is part of the university’s “Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative,” presents the effort as “an opportunity for interested faculty” to promote the commitment to “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice.”

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Scott Sundvall, assistant professor of English at Memphis, told Campus Reform that the stipends evolved from a discussion during a department meeting about which courses could be applied to a social justice minor

Sundvall said that the stipends for redesign “may seem ideological” but is “really not as radical” and a “good idea.”

“It is imperative that no area of the curriculum is excluded,” an Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative report stated. “[I]t is the nature of race oppression for it to find ways to operate invisibly, and in turn to produce conceptual spaces that are mistakenly judged to be ‘race neutral.’”

Within the same report, there is a call to “establish funding to incentivize faculty and instructors to enroll in cultural competency workshops focused on race and racism, designing anti-racist syllabi, and developing skills and appropriate dispositions for facilitating anti-racist classroom discussion.”

An email sent by the Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, outlined the course redesign effort and application process for professors. 

Faculty must answer, as part of a 500-word essay, “[w]hat is your diversity, equity and inclusion philosophy and how does it inform your approach to syllabi design?” Additionally, “[h]ow do you anticipate the redesign of your selected course will address disparities?”

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Public university spent $53k on DEI training]

The redesigned courses are scheduled to be taught in the fall of 2022, with applications due before February and redevelopment of courses during the summer. 

The $1,500 payments are scheduled for the end of summer 2022 and the following spring semester. 

“We’ve had a hard time retaining good faculty at our salary levels, so anytime you see money being spent on non-student or non-faculty causes, it makes you scratch your head,” an anonymous professor told the Washington Free Beacon. “Could this money be spent on students or retaining quality faculty rather than a progressive agenda?”

Cultural competency workshops, reconceptualizing curriculum, and instructors “rethinking” practices are further “anti-racist” goals of the social justice initiative. 

With the turmoil of summer 2020, the university announced BLM stickers to football helmets, saying “[t]his season, for every game, our student-athletes’ helmets will have a BLM sticker. #ALLINagainstRACIALINJUSTICE.” 

Campus Reform has reached out for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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