Achieving racial equity is one of the most vexing challenges facing our nation today. Even as America has become more racially and ethnically diverse, we have become more polarized. Social justice and racial equity fosters opportunities that make it possible for everyone, particularly communities of color, to fully prosper and realize the American dream. The presence of racial equity aims to equip everyone with the opportunities and resources needed to succeed in our society. The absence of racial equity weakens democracy and undermines economic growth and economic development. To achieve social justice and racial equity, we must intentionally disrupt the historical injustices that have perpetuated racial and cultural barriers to success.
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University is a recognized national leader in advancing racial justice through multidisciplinary scholarship, research, training, and engagement. Our goal is to re-double our efforts in advancing racial equity to inform public policy, governance, and practice to improve conditions for marginalized voices within our society.
The Research Institute for Social Equity (RISE) within the Wilder School serves as a vehicle to advance racial equity and social justice through multidisciplinary scholarship, research, training, and engagement. The goal of RISE is to be the national leader in advancing social justice to inform public policy, governance and practice to improve conditions for marginalized voices within our society, including communities of color, LGBTQIA individuals, people with disabilities, incarcerated populations, survivors of domestic violence, and women.
To position RISE as the national “go-to” intellectual thought leader on racial equity and social justice, we translate and disseminate research through a variety of projects, including:
RISE works to expand social equity training for career professionals who are dedicated to promoting racial equity, anti-racism, and social justice in public affairs careers. This training includes:
RISE works to develop tools and resources for those interested in learning about and teaching social equity, with a particular focus on race and racial equity. This includes:
To continue promoting civic engagement in communities of color, we are expanding our collaboration with Virginia Union University. This includes examining and applying the leadership legacy of Governor Wilder to undergraduate and graduate students, student scholarships, and the digitization of the extensive Wilder library collection.
Racism. COVID-19. These are two major pandemics that cannot be wished away. In fact, we are seeing the blatant intersection of the two. African-Americans are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, assuming higher levels of risk in front line or near front line positions to enable social distancing of the privileged, all while also having limited access to quality health care. The recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have brought the disproportionate killings of African-Americans by police to the forefront.
The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs is nationally recognized for our commitment to social equity in our teaching, research, and service. Our faculty, staff, students and alumni are not bystanders to social injustice and believe we must aggressively contribute to eliminating institutional racism. The Wilder School has a history of devoting resources to diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and programs. The work of our Racial Equity Action Plan will complement and enhance the ongoing work of the School’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee while also involving a much broader group of faculty, staff, students and alumni working together to improve the Wilder School, our students, and current and future public sector employees and leaders.
View the 2020 Racial Equity Action Plan