Dear CRDM alumni,
It’s been a year. The 2020-21 academic cycle began as the Covid-19 pandemic outpaced the efforts of policymakers at almost every level of governance to contain it, where such efforts were even in place. The summer of 2021 also saw massive public outcries over the state-sanctioned murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and renewed attention to the systemic and structural racism woven into the fabric of the United States. The confluence of these two seismic shifts showed us aspects of our Ph.D. program in dire need of attention, if not overhaul: places where program administration could take immediate steps (such as the content of our reading lists and syllabi, and the format of our comprehensive exams), and places where we might clamor and organize for more institutional change (such as student stipends, and the well-being and safety of our international colleagues).
In this newsletter, we outline our efforts to address some of the cultural and structural conditions we undertook to better support students in this turbulent time. These were made possible through close collaboration with the CRDM Student Association and the CRDM Program Committee. Many of these were carried out through consultation with you, our community of alumni, and we are deeply grateful for your care and support.