Whitney Howarth

Relationship to PSU:

Associate Professor of History
Department of History and Philosophy
Co-chair of the President’s Commission on Diversity

Personal Philosophy Statement:


I care deeply as an educator, activist, and community member about diversity.

I teach world history and am particularly interested in the examination of gender, race, religion, class, nationality, and cross-cultural experience.  I choose to study questions related to power and identity, historically, because I am fascinated with how/why these issues change over time and across borders.

I am proud to be co-chair of the President’s Commission on Diversity because I think diversity matters to our collective sense of health, well-being, and justice.

Here are some ideas I have about what we can do:

  • We can help design programs and curriculum that educate the campus and community about issues related to social justice, equity, and power.  These are central concerns for a university commission dedicated to diversity.
  • We can help bring greater awareness to the students, faculty, and staff about diversity categories that are visible (racial, ethnic, nationality, gender) and those less visible (varied ability and socio-economic class).  Building awareness, tolerance, and acceptance is central to our educational mission.
  • We can continue to support the varied programs and resources currently on campus dedicated to gender and sexuality awareness, education, advocacy, and activism.
  • We can use our academic knowledge to affirm an interdisciplinary vision of diversity that is more inclusive and compassionate.  We must appreciate the interconnectedness of power hierarchies related to race, class and gender, on our campus, and beyond.
  • We can lead the campus in promoting provocative and intentional dialogue about power and difference.  We should not shy away from topics that may sometimes cause us discomfort or dissonance.  This helps us to grow.
  • We can help give voice to those on campus who feel under-represented, disenfranchised, alienated, or isolated by current power systems. We should invest time and energy in promoting the critical analysis of power and privilege.
  • We can organize, promote and advertise the programs & initiatives of other diversity stakeholders on campus and beyond (PACE, BHM, WHM, SAGE, ALSO, PSJS, AWARE, PRIDE, etc).  Collaboration enhances our diversity work.
  • We can offer a safe space for faculty/staff and students of color who seek greater support at PSU.  We should be leaders in promoting campus-wide discussion about this safe space.  We should partner with other groups in the co-construction of this space via curriculum design, pedagogy workshops, reflective practice circles, students activities, and classroom discussion.