Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Center/Program

Center for Institutional and Social Change

Center/Program

Center for Gender & Sexuality Law

Abstract

policymakers, and activists. This structural reorientation is occurring at a time of judicial retrenchment and political backlash against affirmative action. These developments have placed in sharp relief the mismatch between structural diagnoses and the dominant legal frameworks for addressing inequality. Scholars, policymakers, and activists are faced with the pressing question of what to do now. They share a need for new frameworks and strategies, growing out of a better understanding of institutional and cultural change.

I am honored that the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender has used the publication of The Architecture of Inclusion: Advancing Workplace Equity in Higher Education1 as a catalyst for an interdisciplinary inquiry focused on developing this much-needed knowledge. The Journal used its convening power to assemble a group of creative scholars from such diverse disciplines as history, sociology, political science, economics, psychology, organizational theory, business, and, of course, law. The example of the National Science Foundation's ("NSF") ADVANCE program created the common text unifying the inquiry across disciplines. The interplay between practice and theory, exemplified in The Architecture of Inclusion, set the tone for the collective inquiry. The result was an extraordinarily dynamic and generative dialogue, which yielded the important interdisciplinary scholarship published in this response issue.

Despite their methodological differences, these scholars share several qualities that enabled the group to overcome barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration. The participants all brought a problem orientation to the issue of structural inequality and were eager for the opportunity to situate their particular approach within a broader institutional and disciplinary array. They all saw the need to link micro, institutional, and macro levels of analysis. Participants also shared a common goal: the development of new frameworks, strategies, and locations for addressing structural inequality. Everyone at the table was interested in change: why it is needed, where it happens, what it looks like, and how it is sustained.

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