April 10, 2019

National Academies Join Colleges and Universities to Launch Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education

WASHINGTON -- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have joined with over 40 colleges, universities, and research institutions to launch an Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education.

The purpose of the action collaborative is to bring together academic leaders and key stakeholders to prevent sexual harassment across all disciplines and among all people in higher education. The action collaborative is designed to be an active space where colleges, universities, and research and training organizations can research and develop efforts that move beyond basic legal compliance to evidence-based policies and practices for addressing and preventing all forms of sexual harassment.

Twenty-eight of the institutions joined the National Academies in founding the action collaborative at the beginning of this year; their statement on founding the action collaborative can be found at www.nationalacademies.org/sexualharassmentcollaborative. These founding members provided the initial support to start work and helped refine the goals and plans for the action collaborative during a meeting in March. In the weeks since, additional colleges, universities, and research institutions have become members, bringing the total membership to 43 institutions.

The action collaborative builds on the National Academies’ 2018 report Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which found that between 20 percent and 50 percent of female students and more than 50 percent of female faculty and staff experienced sexually harassing behavior while in academia. The report provides a road map with a range of promising practices for preventing sexual harassment, such as using bystander intervention, producing annual reports to convey that reports of sexual harassment are taken seriously and people are held accountable, and combining anti-harassment efforts with programs to promote civility and respect.

"It's exciting to see academic institutions come together to address sexual harassment in a collective, structural approach to ending long-standing patterns of discrimination,” said Elizabeth Hillman, president of Mills College, a member of the action collaborative’s leadership group, and a member of the study committee that wrote the 2018 report.

The four main goals of the action collaborative are to:

The action collaborative will also deal with the issue of sexual harassment in the context of other damaging behavior, including incivility, bullying, and other forms of harassment such as racial harassment.

“We hope that going forward even more colleges, universities, and other organizations will join us in our efforts,” said Frazier Benya, a senior program officer at the National Academies who is directing the action collaborative.  Institutions that are interested in joining or learning more about the action collaborative can contact Dr. Benya at fbenya@nas.edu.  Information about the action collaborative, along with letters of commitment from member institutions, can be found at www.nationalacademies.org/sexualharassmentcollaborative.

The members of the action collaborative are listed below, with the founding members in bold:

American University in Cairo
Argonne National Laboratory

Boston University
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Colorado College

Columbia University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Los Angeles Community College District
Michigan State University
Mills College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Northwestern University
Olin College of Engineering
Rutgers University
Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Stanford University
University of California Berkeley

University of California Los Angeles
University of California Merced
University of California Riverside
University of California San Diego

University of California San Francisco
University of California Santa Barbara
University of California Santa Cruz
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
University of Kansas

University of Maryland Medical School
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin System
University of Southern California
Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Wellesley College
Yale University

The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit nationalacademies.org

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