Anti-racism and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics


The Kennedy Institute’s faculty members have undertaken initiatives on a number of fronts to incorporate issues of racial justice and anti-racism into their teaching, research, and service, particularly through the efforts of Ethics Lab, under the direction of Maggie Little. The following is a partial list of these efforts.

SEAN AAS taught a small undergraduate course on reparations and racial justice, and has incorporated this material into his course, Political and Social Thought. He also often teaches about racial justice issues in his bioethics class, in the contexts of health justice/health equity and in the context of doctor-patient conversations about death (e.g., the case of Jahi McMath).

JOEL REYNOLDS has authored Disability and White Supremacy, forthcoming in the journal Critical Philosophy of Race. He regularly teaches about anti-racism in my Bioethics and Disability Class (among other classes) and the multi-speaker, six-part NEH public humanities grant, “The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability,” which he co-directs, takes up the relationship between anti-racism and anti-ableism in more than one of its events.

HENRY RICHARDSON is developing a paper for a Sept. 2021 50th anniversary conference on Rawls’s Theory of Justice that argues that structural racial injustice shows not only (as is widely accepted) that Rawls’s ideal theory of justice needs to be supplemented by a non-ideal theory of corrective, reparative, or remedial justice, but also that Rawls’s ideal theory is significantly defective in itself.  He has presented this material previously at the combined meeting of the Asian Network on the Philosophy of Social Science and the European Network on the Philosophy of Social Science earlier this month. 

DAN SULMASY has advised the DC Department of Health on justice, race, and vaccine distribution, proposing prioritization of vaccine supplies for communities of color that have been  disproportionately affected by COVID 19 and promoting faith-based programs to combat vaccine hesitancy. He has also served as a volunteer vaccine physician supervisor for mass COVID-19 vaccine events sponsored by Georgetown University, targeting Washington’s predominantly black Southeast community.

ETHICS LAB, directed by MAGGIE LITTLE has undertaken extensive efforts to re-examine and re-imagine its teaching, research, and service in light of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Details of these efforts can be found by clicking here.

Cataloguing Ethics Lab’s Anti-racism efforts

Updated April 16, 2021

  1. Began educating ourselves about structural racism and how to respond to it.

The Ethics Lab team held a series of internal discussions about how to respond to structural racism and related issues moving forward. These discussions were informed by what team members had learned through readings, discussions, lectures about structural racism, including those featured as part of Georgetown University’s talk series, “Conversations About Racial Injustice: The Movement Towards Equity and Fairness.” These internal educational efforts are ongoing. Soon, our team will meet with Professor Maurice Jackson to continue to learn more to better inform our efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  1. Created a Bibliography.

The Ethics Lab team created a bibliography to continue to promote greater understanding about anti-racism and to contribute to Ethics Lab course content.

  1. Revised course content to better promote anti-racism and minoritized perspectives.

The Ethics lab team reevaluated and revised content in its courses to better promote issues relating to structural racism, equity, and inclusion. These efforts involved placing greater emphasis on these topics across our courses, inviting guest speakers to address these topics, and increasing the number of minoritized authors represented across our syllabuses. As part of this process, the Ethics Lab also began an ongoing syllabus audit to ensure that these changes persist and adapt as our understanding of structural racism improves.

  1. Striving to cultivate a permanent disposition to address anti-racism across our efforts

The Ethics lab is committed to promoting anti-racism through its educational efforts and institutional identity. This involves attending to and addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as we carry out our engagements, projects, and courses in a more deliberate way than before. And it also involves striving to improve minoritized representation on our team and with our guests speakers, partners, and collaborators.