The Intentional Design for an Equitable Academy (IDEA) unit draws on human-centered design as a methodology for developing activities and convenings where we can re-envision academia’s culture, policies, and practices. Led by IDEA Director Jovonne Bickerstaff, the unit includes the Intention Foundry (IF), the ACLS Digital Justice Grant Program, and the Leadership Institute for a New Academy (LINA). ACLS takes this moment as a call for cultivating opportunities for reparative intervention and transformative engagement that further ACLS efforts to enhance equity, justice, and well-being in the academy.

ACLS has a long history of convening scholars, administrators, learned society directors, leaders of national and international academies, and public figures to share ideas and solve problems. As outlined in our Strategic Priorities, ACLS seeks action on major challenges facing humanistic studies and continues to expand our capacity to serve as a key resource for societies, scholars, and administrators, with a focus on students and scholars who have not historically had a seat at the table in discussions about institutional change.

The core aims of IDEA include:

  • Curating and facilitating forums for collaborative visioning and planning that bridge groups across the higher education ecosystem.
  • Developing curriculum & experiential opportunities for re-envisioning key power systems, taking deep dives into challenging issues, and strategizing for substantive change.
  • Designing initiatives that strive to alter the status quo of systems in academia, while working to support the most vulnerable in navigating systems as they currently exist.
  • Establishing new partnerships to engage constituencies (particularly those facing underinvestment in the academy) in people-centered equity-advancing efforts.

One of the powerful things about the reinvention…rules that we thought we had to stick to all of a sudden got all thrown out the window…If we can just hold that spirit, that some of the things we think aren’t changeable or aren’t moveable actually are changeable and are moveable, then we can create anew.

Na’ilah Suad Nasir

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