Actions by Individual Schools and Units

Separate from university-wide policies and actions taken in response to the research on Yale’s ties to slavery and anti-Black racism, individual schools and units have taken their own actions. These include but are not limited to the following.

David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University

David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University offers the course “Toward Anti-Racist Theater Practice” in each of its disciplines and has held workshops directly related to the Yale and Slavery Research Project. The workshops have included research in the Yale archives and writing theater pieces related to the painful history explored there. 

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Across the FAS, faculty members explore the legacies of slavery in their research and teaching. FAS faculty member David Blight served as head of the Yale and Slavery Research Project, and the FAS departments of History and of African American Studies have played an integral role in the project, offering courses and programs that invite students, colleagues, and the broader community to engage with this history. In addition, FAS faculty in American Studies; Anthropology; English; History of Art; Music; Religious Studies; Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies; and other fields are offering courses that explore the history of slavery, its resonances in the present, and its impact on and manifestation in music, art, performance, and literature. FAS historians, economists, sociologists, and political scientists are uncovering and teaching about how slavery informed economic systems, and how racial disparities continue to shape economic and democratic participation. FAS scholars across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences research and teach about how scientific racism shaped understandings of human biology, and explore the psychological and health effects of racial discrimination. 

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

As part of the Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education, scheduled for April 5 – 6, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with members of the Yale and Slavery Research Project, will provide conference attendees with an opportunity to view the “Shining Light on Truth: New Haven, Yale, and Slavery” exhibit at the New Haven Museum. The exhibit is curated by Michael J. Morand and Charles E. Warner, Jr., and designed by David Jon Walker. Conference attendees will also hear from Professor David Blight during a plenary session as he discusses the new book Yale and Slavery: A History.

Yale Center for British Art (YCBA)

The YCBA has undertaken an in-depth study of a familiar Elihu Yale portrait to try to determine the identity of an enslaved child who appears in the painting. Although the child’s identity is not yet known, the research has provided more information about the painting, which may eventually contribute to an identification. Separately, the YCBA successfully identified a Black child in Joshua Reynold’s 1782 portrait of Charles Stanhope as Marcus Richard Fitzroy Thomas. The painting has been retitled in the catalog as Charles Stanhope, third Earl of Harrington, and Marcus Richard Fitzroy Thomas.

Yale Divinity School

The Divinity School began its work in this area well before the Yale and Slavery Research Project got underway. In October 2017, it renamed a classroom after James W.C. Pennington, the first Black man to study at Yale, who was not allowed to either matriculate or graduate. In October the following year, the Divinity School unveiled a portrait of the Reverend Pennington in its common room alongside portraits of notable faculty and administrators. A portrait of Rena Karefa-Smart, the first African American woman to graduate from the Divinity School, was unveiled in 2023. The Divinity School has also issued a formal apology for its involvement in slavery, reserved $20 million in its endowment for social justice scholarships, and established a new prize for work in social justice.

Yale Law School 

Over the last several years, Yale Law School has closely examined its ties to slavery and advanced numerous projects and initiatives to expand access to legal education while bolstering faculty research and initiatives related to racial equality. Students, faculty, and researchers at the Lillian Goldman Law Library have researched the Law School’s history and produced a physical and online exhibit on the subject. In partnership with the University, the Law School launched the Law and Racial Justice Center, which serves as a hub for teaching, research, and policy work, including an Access to Law School pipeline program for underserved New Haven residents. The Law School also continues to support the work of the Justice Collaboratory, a leading research center that works to advance procedural justice. Just over a year ago, Yale Law School launched its second pipeline-to-law school program, the Launchpad Scholars Program, which helps open the gates of the profession to members of underrepresented and underserved communities. Additionally, the Law School has commissioned new artwork and diversified its iconography to better reflect its history. 

Yale Library 

The library is curating an exhibit, together with the New Haven Museum, on the Yale and Slavery research findings to accompany the release of the book. It is also creating a dedicated archive of the materials used by the Yale and Slavery Working Group to facilitate future research, and it has established a new position within the library to serve as a research coordinator for future Yale, New Haven, and Connecticut history projects and programs. 

Yale School of Architecture

The School of Architecture is working on ways to assess and reduce embodied, forced labor in the construction industry by developing appropriate design strategy and analysis. The Architecture School is also offering courses on topics related to the long-term impact of chattel slavery in the United States, including “Slavery, Its Legacies, and the Built Environment.”

Yale School of Art

To serve its mission to foster a compassionate and equitable learning environment for unfettered creativity, experimentation, and intellectual inquiry, the School of Art has implemented multiple school-wide efforts in the past decade to improve the scope and rigor of its curriculum and to increase the diversity and excellence of its faculty and staff. A faculty-led committee focused on addressing racism recommended a multi-year strategy that included a lecture series and a symposium focused on expanding art history in the classroom and studio to include more world traditions. School-wide programs have created more equitable critique protocols and community agreements, and supported education and climate justice projects with New Haven and HBCU partners. The Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement is administered by the school and stewarded by Dean Kymberly Pinder alongside 16 other members consisting of New Haven community leaders, Yale staff, students, and faculty.

Yale School of the Environment (YSE)

Many members of the YSE community work toward a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable future. For example, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Sustainability Initiative (JEDSI) will launch the updated People of Color Environmental Professionals database in March. Several YSE faculty, students, and staff have written entries for the three-volume compendium of the Environmental Justice Encyclopedia that examines issues of slavery, eugenics and environmentalism, and the persistence of environmental inequalities worldwide. The Centers for Environmental Justice and Business and the Environment is focusing on issues of energy equity and energy justice through the creation of a certificate program that helps ensure the clean energy transition avoids replicating environmental, social, and racial injustices of the past. The school has also hired a historian to explore and write about the comprehensive history of the school and the broader, complex history of race and the environment.    

Yale School of Management (SOM)

SOM, under Dean Kerwin Charles’s leadership, is leading the university’s efforts to establish the Center for Inclusive Growth, the historic partnership between the City of New Haven and Yale that will develop and implement strategies to ensure inclusive economic growth in New Haven. In addition, SOM has launched the Inclusive Growth Fellowship, Yale’s first major programmatic contribution the center, through which Yale SOM students will work on projects aimed at increasing economic growth in ways that broadly benefit New Haven residents.

Yale School of Medicine (YSM)

YSM asked faculty members in the Department of History of Medicine to lead an examination of the relationship between YSM and its predecessor, the Medical Institution of Yale College, and slavery. The school appointed a steering committee and supported a one-year post-doctoral research team to develop a better understanding of its past and its legacies, and to promote reflection and conversation among the members of the community. The research project explored a number of avenues, such as the relationship between YSM and the slave trade; the medical treatment of enslaved people and the use of Black peoples’ bodies in both medical experimentation and teaching; and the impact of slavery on the relationship of YSM with the New Haven community. The initiative held a roundtable discussion on “Racial Science and Slavery in U.S. Medical Schools,” and their efforts will culminate in a web-based Medical Historical Library exhibit of eight historical vignettes. 

Yale School of Public Health (YSPH)

YSPH is committed to addressing the public health consequences of anti-Black racism, racial discrimination, and the legacy of slavery. The legacy of slavery is discussed in comprehensive teaching and training modules such as the “Social Justice and Health Equity” course that outlines the social and structural determinants related to health inequalities in the U.S. and globally. YSPH also has developed several concentrations for students that focus on advancing social justice and health equity for marginalized and minoritized populations: U.S. Health Justice, Climate Change and Health, and Global Health. YSPH faculty, staff, and students are engaged in innovative, collaborative, cutting-edge research that addresses the world’s most pressing public health challenges. YSPH also commits to working with and being accountable to the communities it serves by building authentic and sustainable partnerships. These include the Health Equity Fellowship, Community Impact Lab, and Activist-in-Residence program.