SHPRS Against Racism

A demonstrator's sign in downtown Phoenix at a May protest. Photo by Richard Amesbury.
A demonstrator's sign in downtown Phoenix at a May protest. Photo by Richard Amesbury.

Mission Statement of the SHPRS Anti-Racism Committee

To be anti-racist is to actively fight against racism. Urged on by the ongoing cycle of black and brown rebellions that collectively struggle against police violence--the symptomatic manifestation of a violent system of white supremacy that structures everyday life in the United States--the Anti-Racism Committee in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS) stands in solidarity with the protestors who took to the streets to defiantly proclaim Black Lives Matter and to demand justice. The Anti-Racism Committee will work to transform words and solidarity into action as we strategize and reflect on how to internally implement effective and meaningful anti-racist change in our small corner of Arizona State University.  We will work to make lasting reforms in our primary area of expertise as educators and teachers by critically rethinking pedagogical approaches, course curriculums, and student events to center black and brown voices and experiences. We will also focus on creating a faculty that better reflects the diversity of Arizona State University students, Arizona and US society, broadly.  

The Anti-Racism Committee will work to go beyond campus to engage local and state communities by organizing public-facing events and participating in ongoing conversations inspired by the rebellions and Black Lives Matter. We seek to mobilize our academic expertise and knowledge to inform and fight the ongoing legacies of slavery, settler colonialism, racist law enforcement practices, mass incarceration, and lethal immigration policies and practices.  

To be anti-racist is also to reimagine anti-racist futures based on justice, liberation and freedom--futures that we hope ASU students, staff and faculty, and our broader communities, will join us in imagining, creating and enacting.  

Course Themes and Highlights

SHPRS is committed, now more than ever, to helping our students and the broader community understand the ongoing realities of systemic racial violence and oppression, and to hearing past and present voices offering alternative visions of justice. We believe that research, pedagogy, and community engagement will better equip us all to imagine and act in pursuit of a more just, anti-racist, and democratic society. 

As historians, philosophers and scholars of religion, our faculty regularly offer a variety of courses that address historical and contemporaneous questions of racism, racial violence, and anti-racism. Core themes that unite many of our courses include:

  • Racism: How have racism, racial discrimination, and white supremacist violence been institutionalized and normalized?
  • Social Movements: What role(s) do officials and civilians play in the governance of society, creating communities, and making change?
  • Justice: What does justice look like, and how have different members of society around the world advanced notions of justice?

In addition, during Fall 2021, SHPRS offered the following courses that will directly address racism against Black, Indigenous and Latinx lives, as well as other People of Color in the United States: 

HST 194: From Racism to Justice
HST 306: Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter
HST 306: Outlaws, Indians and the West
PHI 306: Applied Ethics
REL 326: US Latino Religion and Culture
REL 330: Native American Worldviews
REL 331: History of Native American Religious Traditions
HST 323: Historical Studies in Race, Crime and Law
HST 325: Immigration and Ethnicity in U.S. 
HST 598: Historiography of Slavery

We encourage students to learn about racism and help build anti-racist knowledge by joining the conversation in these courses, and within the walkways and offices (both physical and virtual) of Coor Hall. We also welcome and encourage students to propose additional themes and questions for SHPRS to address in our curriculum and programming. Working with our students and community members, SHPRS will continue to advance our mission to build a better future and equitable society for all.

For questions or any inquiries, please contact Leah Sarat, Chair of the SHPRS Anti-Racism Committee,  

Race Relations Scholar Award

A standing woman talks to people in masks.

To promote the study of “racism” and “racial relations” in graduate studies at Arizona State University, The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies announces a new initiative to offer five awards to eligible on ground graduate students at ASU. The awards recognize scholarship in the humanities on topics about race relations, with priority given to race relations in the United States.

Topics might include research pertaining to the following, but are not limited to:
• Racism and race relations in the United States.
• Discrimination and violence against Black, Indigenous, Latinx communities and other people of color.
• Social injustice and racial inequity.
• Protests, activism, and social movements for racial equity.
• Studies of slavery, settler colonialism, and/or empire (both in the past and/or ongoing).
• Critical race studies, theories, and methodologies.

Recipients will be named Race Relations Scholars and will receive an award of $2,000 for the 2020-2021 academic year upon successful completion of meetings with their cohort, including a 25-page essay on race relations or related issues to racism. Award winners will meet five times via Zoom during the year to share ideas and progress on their work.

Currently not accepting applications

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