Police violence against Black people, and resulting protests, in the spring of 2020, have underscored how deep-rooted racism continues to plague so many aspects of our society. Killings of Black people by police are an especially blatant manifestation of racism, but the underlying problems are far more systematic and pervasive. Indeed, as a number of recent events have highlighted, the economics profession is less open and welcoming to Black scholars, and other under-represented minorities (URMs), than it ought to be. The Harvard Economics department needs to do better, and be more proactive in combating racism, than we have been. We need to do so to treat members of our own community with the fairness and compassion they deserve, to improve our scholarship, and to help improve the climate in economics more broadly.
The challenges facing the economics profession are complex, and we do not kid ourselves to think that anything that we do over the coming months or even years will come close to fully confronting them. Nonetheless, it is time to start. And because words without actions are cheap and fundamentally unsatisfying, we lay out below what we see as some obvious areas for improvement, as well as concrete steps that we have already begun to take and others that we plan to take. Again, we view these as a start. Many of the ideas below are the result of thoughtful input from members of our community, and we welcome further input. We also hope and expect that you will hold us accountable for making progress on the items that we have identified.