The Racial Justice Examen (RJE) seeks to support academic units in their work towards becoming an anti-racist institution through reflection, understanding, empathy, and action.
Initiated in September 2020, the RJE started with a University-wide collaboration between students, staff, and faculty to understand areas of racial injustice, diversity, and equity across academic units. Through this work, seven domains of reflection were created to serve as the framework for the RJE.
Curriculum refers to the content taught for each discipline. When teaching from a racial justice lens, it's important to reflect on the content being taught to ensure that perspectives shared in coursework are diverse, not one-sided, and present students with an opportunity to understand the diversity of life experiences in society.
Pedagogy refers to how courses are taught regardless of discipline (i.e. instructional methods used to deliver curriculum). This includes steps taken by instructors to increase the likelihood that students from all backgrounds feel like they belong in the classroom, are supported to think critically, and can safely take risks to engage in difficult dialogue.
Selection and retention practices
Research indicates that inclusive practices for recruiting and retaining students, staff, and faculty of color are an important foundation to establishing a diverse community. Using a racial justice lens, academic units reflected on the practices of recruitment, selection, and retention of graduate students as well as full-time tenure track and non-tenure-track faculty.
Although Loyola has a University-wide grievance procedure for Title VI violations, units are expected to handle everyday forms of racism, such as microaggressions, that contribute to a chilly climate for people from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups independently. Units were asked to reflect on the procedures for reporting and mediating grievance issues that do not violate the University's Comprehensive Policy.
As an institution that espouses social justice, it's important for faculty to ensure that their service supports justice for marginalized communities. Units were asked to reflect on their procedures that are in place to track and reward service related to diversity and racial justice.
As an institution that espouses social justice, it's important for faculty to ensure that their research and scholarship supports justice for marginalized communities. Units were asked to reflect on their procedures that are in place to track and reward scholarship related to diversity and racial justice.
As efforts are made to increase student, staff, and faculty diversity, it's important to assess the collective behaviors of people (e.g. norms for communication and collaboration, policies and procedures) within units that contribute to a culture that feels safe and welcoming for people of all backgrounds. Units were also asked to reflect on collective behaviors that do not support an inclusive departmental culture.
In the Spring of 2021, each academic unit on campus reflected on its practices across these seven domains to identify ways that they could improve in service to students and colleagues. Through the RJE, University leadership will be able to identify areas for strategic planning, resources for ongoing continuous improvement, and continue to foster open and productive dialogue about racial justice.
Key findings from the Spring 2021 RJE can be viewed and downloaded:
About the examen
The Examen is a practice from Jesuit Education and Ignatian Spirituality that uses intentional reflection to draw attention to certain aspects of our daily lived reality. It recognizes that our daily practices and habits contain great insight and the potential for creating meaning and growth. It is intended to be a deeply honest inquiry into what is going well and where we are falling short of what we believe and what is right. Unlike some assessments, where there can be anxiety or shame around acknowledging our areas for growth, the Examen emphasizes that by paying attention to both what is going well, alongside areas where we fail or feel lost, that we can really see and feel the movement of God and genuine growth. All are opportunities for deep insight on how to move toward where we wish to be in our efforts toward racial justice. Loyola University Chicago’s RJE is meant to support academic units in reflecting on their practices to help us move along the continuum towards being a fully inclusive, and anti-racist multicultural organization.