Purdue University

Open Letter from Center Director Tim Filley

January 20, 2021

Dear C4E friends and affiliates,

Welcome back to Purdue and the 2021 spring semester.  Let us celebrate our return to classes and also our hard work to create a safe working and educational environmental for faculty, staff, and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The roll out of the vaccines brings hope for the end of the pandemic,  but as you move forward with your research and education, please keep the Protect Purdue Pledge and the safe practices for minimizing virus transmission ever present in your mind. Today, January 20,  we celebrate the historic inauguration of the first Black, Asian, female Vice President.  We should also celebrate something that many of us may have taken for granted in the past—the peaceful transfer of power between our presidential administrations.

It goes without saying the previous year has been momentous.  The tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans have laid bare the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in our society.  They have also galvanized communities into anti-racist action. This past year we have also witnessed acts of political violence, voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, and mass dissemination of weaponized misinformation aimed at those fundamental aspects of our democracy that give us, as Americans, perpetual hope for change, for fairness, for inclusion.  

Following a series of discussions and meetings with students, faculty and staff, the Center for the Environment has worked to create a guiding statement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and with it, a plan for making changes in the short term and over the next several years.  We at the Center for the Environment are called upon to confront and address systemic racism because of the strong links between racism and environmental injustice.  Our attention will not fade.  

We commit to support racial and social justice, confront equity and rights concerns, and affirm that everyone has a right to dignity and life in a safe and healthy environment. We also join in a collective voice to affirm that Black Lives Matter.  

To begin, we set out the following general goals:

  • Build an inclusive climate by committing to anti-racist policies, practices, and procedures that align with Purdue’s antidiscrimination statement; 
  • Increase the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color among the faculty, staff, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars at Purdue; 
  • Actively promote environmentally-focused education and professional development opportunities that address bias, racism, discrimination, and hate;
  • Showcase and celebrate the work and success of diverse scholars in our Center and elsewhere; 
  • Promote opportunities to connect faculty research to diversity and equity initiatives.

We invite you to read our complete DEI statement here.

We hope you enjoyed environmental justice (EJ) activities from the fall 2020 semester such as the EJ film series and EJ lunch and learns and that you will be able to make use of new EJ resources such as the EJ informational resource list.  We are especially excited to be hosting a 2-day virtual symposium  Next Steps – Environmental Justice, Climate Change, and Racial Justice,” on March 25 and 26. 

Thank you all for your efforts that reinforce and complement our efforts. Please know we will continue to seek input from diverse voices across campus, from our surrounding communities, and from national and global partners while  we actively initiate changes that are durable and consequential. Achieving diversity and inclusion, addressing the impacts of racism, and moving our campus, the nation, and the world toward a more equitable and just future will depend on the efforts of all of us, and we ask for your support and participation.  We invite members of the Purdue community to provide input on how we can achieve our specific goals, and how we may work to support your efforts by sending comments to environment@purdue.edu.

Sincerely,

Tim