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The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University is committed to countering oppression and centering social and racial justice in every aspect of our teaching, research, campus relationships, and community engagement.    

We recognize the need for our sustained action, reflection and cultural regeneration so that, as individuals and a community, we can better advance our goal of racial justice

We aspire to realize this vision by:

  • Striving to recruit and support a diverse student body, faculty and staff and then provide a welcoming and inclusive workplace that allows everyone to thrive personally, academically and professionally
  • Supporting undergraduate and graduate students of diverse identities in their academic studies and career planning. 
  • Ensuring that principles of social and racial justice are embedded throughout our curriculum.
  • Centering the, lived experiences, knowledge, and voices of the communities in which we teach, learn, and conduct research. 
  • Embrace a culture of respect, inclusivity, personal growth and honest communication throughout our community
  • We will continually adhere to practices of review to hold ourselves accountable to these principles.

Learn more about our work:

The SPPUA Racial Justice Working Group, open to students, faculty and staff meet bi-weekly to plan, design, strategize and advance our collective efforts and check in on racial justice work across the university.

Racial Literacy Course – Several of our faculty have played an instrumental role in the university-wide Racial Literacy course (Professors Ted Landsmark, Matt Lee and Rebecca Riccio). Recordings from each session are available here.

PPUA 5390 Seminar in Black Leadership, Professor Ted Landsmark. This course enables students to conduct in-depth studies of transformative black leaders in a wide range of fields. Focuses on black leadership in the political arena as elected officials, leaders of pressure groups, leaders of protest organizations, cultural leaders, black nationalist organizations and feminist/womanist groups, and as advisers to political parties and presidential administrations.

Race, Identity, Social Change, and Empowerment, Professor Matt Lee. This course examines racism, racial identity, and theories of social change and racial empowerment primarily within the U.S. context. Highlights different ways in which racism and racial privilege have been experienced by different racial communities, more specifically at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels.

Post-Pandemic Design: Creating Equitable, Healthy and Resilient Places, Professor Ted Landsmark. COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and destructive fires and hurricanes in 2020 have illuminated the impact of increasing socioeconomic disparity, structural racism and climate change on our country. What is the role of urban design and development in confronting these issues?

PPUA 5390 ST Race, Energy Policy, and Energy Justice, Professor Shalanda Baker.

21-Day Racial Justice Challenge – Professors Matt Lee and Rebecca Riccio co-led this three-week event that challenged Human Services students and alumni to develop habits of integrating racial consciousness into their everyday lives.

Student Activist Open Classroom Session – The second session of the fall 2020 Myra Kraft Open Classroom featured six student activists who shared their experiences on the front lines of the converging crises looming over their generation in a panel facilitated by Professor Rebecca Riccio. The recording is available here.

Northeastern University Student-Athletes for Equity Coalition – The Social Impact Lab is advising this newly launched effort among student-athletes to promote racial equity in athletics and make grants to support local nonprofit organizations.

Northeastern Students4Giving – This Social Impact Lab program has awarded its fall 2020 grant of $5,000 to Sociedad Latina for its efforts to address the disproportionate impact of Covid on communities of color in Boston.

Faculty Workshop on Integrating Racial Justice into the Curriculum – Professors Matt Lee and Gavin Shatkin organized and ran a summer workshop to guide faculty on rethinking how to leverage their identity in the classroom, to facilitate challenging conversations, and expand their syllabus and curriculum to be more inclusive in terms of content, evaluation and teaching strategies. The school is planning another racial justice workshop with an external facilitator for all faculty and staff in January 2021.

SPPUA Advisory Committee – Two new members of the SPPUA advisory committee, Atyia Martin, CEO and founder of All Aces, Inc., and Greg King, managing director of TSK Energy Solutions, are providing insights and guidance on the development of antiracist leadership trainings within SPPUA.

NUPD Community Advisory Board – Professors Shalanda Baker and Rebecca Riccio are serving on the Northeastern Police Department Community Advisory Board, which has been established to review and make recommendations on NUPD policies and protocols, particularly as they relate to issues of racial equity.

Presidential Council for Diversity and Inclusion – Professor Ted Landsmark is a member of this group focused on expanding the impact of university-wide efforts.

Faculty Senate’s Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion – Professor Ted Landsmark is a member of this group which will be presenting to the faculty senate in January 2021.

Voter Engagement – Professor Ted Landsmark is collaborating with colleagues from the Law School and Political Science on anti-voter suppression research work from North Carolina and Arizona into the Georgia Senate run-offs in January 2021. Professor Landsmark also co-chaired the University’s Voter Engagement working group, which registered over 1000 students, and he worked with the City of Boston to make Matthews Arena a polling place.

Advancing Antiracist, Feminist Leadership – Director Jennie Stephens’ new book Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy provides inspiring examples of antiracist, feminist leadership linking climate and energy with economic justice, housing justice, health and transit equity. The foreword of the book was written by Professor Ted Landsmark. Professor Stephens makes frequent media appearances, including podcasts, blogs, and articles, catalogued here.

Energy Justice – With support from multiple external foundations, Professor Shalanda Baker has expanded her work supporting frontline communities addressing energy justice issues by co-founding the Initiative for Energy Justice. Professor Joan Fitzgerald is an expert on and regular contributor of articles on equity and urban climate action.

Urban Affairs Association (UAA) – SPPUA holds an institutional membership in UAA, while Professor Thomas Vicino is chair of the Board and president of the UAA. For half a century, UAA has had a deep commitment to social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some recent activities include:

  • Issued two formal statements (here and here) about these commitments (to racial and ethnic justice, in particular), and then issued a subsequent statement on concrete, action items to fulfill these commitments, including a community survey.
  • The association recently launched a second, peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City, along side its flagship journal, The Journal of Urban Affairs.
  • Developed programming on a monthly basis to engage the membership with webinars, panels, and conversations to support professional development for colleagues during the global pandemic, with a particular focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. These resources are open to our community and provide excellent supports for key constituencies.



Resources for our Communities

If you would like to contribute to these growing lists, please email sppua@northeastern.edu, and use the subject line “Racial Justice Resources.”

Listen Here

Voices of Northeastern: Ted Landsmark

“Complacency is the enemy of change.”

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