05 Aug 2020

Juneteenth Case Pledge


Dear HBS Faculty Members,

For those of you who do not know us, we are the Student Association Co-Presidents for 2020-2021 and proud members of Section B. Throughout our RC experience, we were amazed by the commitment shown to our class by each of our faculty members, and we consider ourselves lucky to have had the chance to learn from them. We love this school, as we know each of you do, but we have been troubled by the slow-moving nature of the academic experience in addressing diversity within the cases we teach. We believe we are at a special moment in time where we can no longer make excuses for the near-absence of Black and other minority protagonists within the curriculum, which is why we are reaching out to you for help.

In the midst of the turmoil in our country, if you are asking what you can do, our ask is for you to start by writing one new case with a Black protagonist by Juneteenth (June 19) 2021 or 2022 if you encounter serious challenges. The work is not done after the case is written, so we are also asking you to use your skills and influence to strive to ensure that by the 2022 - 2023 academic year the case makeup within your course will as closely reflect the composition of the student body as your course’s educational objectives allow, We are asking for your commitment on behalf of the student body, as future leaders who make a difference in the world, and as a woman and a Black man who rarely saw protagonists who looked like them in the classroom. These acts may seem small, but nearly 80% of business school cases taught around the world are developed at Harvard. If we change the way we write and teach cases, we can change business education.

We do not make this ask lightly. We understand that each case written requires time, research, and hard work and that the cases in each course are thoughtfully curated over time. It is, without a doubt, a serious and difficult commitment. However, none of us came to Harvard to do what was easy - we came here with hopes of doing something extraordinary. Now is a time for bold strokes - if we do not act now, then when?

We ask that you spend the Juneteenth holiday and weekend reflecting on this request, and let us know your pledge commitment through the form here by noon EST on Friday June 26. We will continue to leave the form open in case you cannot sign within that time frame. Juneteenth is symbolic as it is the day when the final slaves in the Confederacy were emancipated, and we hope it will also reflect a turning point at HBS. We will share the faculty signees with the student body, faculty, and staff the week after next, and we will ask for students who are interested in getting involved to reach out to faculty members who have made the commitment.

We understand there may be reasons you cannot commit to the specific terms of this pledge, and we ask that, if you find yourself in that situation, you use this call to further devote yourself to diversity at HBS by other means. Thank you for considering, and thank you for joining us in being leaders who make a positive difference in the world.

Yours in solidarity,
Annie and Caleb

The Pledge

As a faculty member at the Harvard Business School, I commit to writing at least one case or piece of course material featuring a Black protagonist or addressing issues facing the Black community by Juneteenth (June 19) 2021, or, if I encounter serious challenges, June 19, 2022.

I understand that the effort for diversity within our case protagonists does not stop after June 19, 2021. I will strive to ensure that by the 2022 - 2023 academic year the case makeup within my course will as closely reflect the composition of the student body I am teaching as my course’s education objectives allow.

I pledge to champion diversity and drive meaningful progress to ensure that all students at Harvard Business School can see themselves in what I teach.

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