Dean's Statement on GSEHD Core Values

The University values a dynamic, student-focused community stimulated by cultural and intellectual diversity and built upon a foundation of integrity, creativity, and openness to the exploration of new ideas. -- from the George Washington University mission statement

Today’s political climate has created new uncertainties, tensions, and anxieties for our students, faculty, and staff. As we go about our work in this stressful environment, I believe it is helpful to keep GSEHD’s and GW’s core values and principles in mind.

We are an educational institution committed to upholding the most cherished traditions of academic expression and thought, the pursuit of knowledge through disciplined inquiry, and the expansion of opportunity to flourish in our diverse pluralist democracy. Many of us today feel those traditions are at risk: attacks on the professoriate based on alleged political or ideological biases, threatened reductions to funding for basic science, and targeting of groups based on their racial, ethnic, national, political, religious, sexual, or gender identity are like poisoned arrows aimed at the heart of our educational values.

Reacting to these challenges does not imply a specific partisan or political agenda. On the contrary, Americans of mainstream party affiliations have long embraced the ideals of liberty and justice enshrined in our founding documents, worked toward remedying persistent socioeconomic and demographic inequities, affirmed to the role of government in scientific research, and sought to ensure that education can be the pathway to opportunity for all our people.

After the 2016 presidential election, GW’s President Steven Knapp called for the university community to “continue to respect our differences, maintain civility and celebrate our diversity.” I encourage the GSEHD family to meet his call and work together in support of the university’s mission and the GW Values.

For me this translates to my hope that in GSEHD we will:

  • Reinforce our commitment to civility and respect;
  • encourage our learning community to promote social progress through education;
  • double-down on our insistence that factual knowledge and credible research evidence are needed inputs to improved education policy and practice; and
  • protect all our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, assumed or known political leaning, citizenship status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity—as members of the GSEHD family.

Thank you for all your great work, collegiality, and enthusiasm for the GSEHD mission.

-Michael Feuer, Dean

Comments

Thank you Dean Feuer for your inspiring statement on GSEHD core values. I would like to steer my colleagues to this blog post from the Anti-Defamation League (mentioned in the Chronicle) about a recent dramatic rise in anti-Semitic and white supremacist speech and acts, particularly on campuses. It is frightening. Is our country taking the first step toward anti-immigrant identity politics? In our busy lives, it is easier to look away, to dismiss it as the actions of a small band of extremists who believe the current political climate signals a permission to act ... but then, history has taught us about that kind of fatal mistake. It is painful to realize how fragile democracy is and that it is our responsibility to remain vigilant and to act when its fundamental values and principles are threatened -- from without and within.

--Carol Kochhar-Bryant, GSEHD Professor of Special Education and Disability Studies