Skip to content

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Undergraduate School

Mailing Address
320 Student Services Building
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
(865) 974-1111
Email address
School Information
"What began in 1794 as a small college in the Southwest Territory has grown into Tennessee’s flagship university and premier public research institution. For more than 225 years, Volunteers have been lighting the way for others, across Tennessee and throughout the world. UT Knoxville, which includes the UT Space Institute and the UT Institute of Agriculture, serves the state by educating its citizens, enhancing its culture, and making a difference in people’s lives through research and service. We embody excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity, outreach, and engagement" (Source: The school has approximately 30,000 students with 24,000 undergraduates and over 6,000 graduates and professionals. The student to faculty ratio is 17 to 1. Within 11 colleges, 370 undergraduate and 547 graduate programs of study are offered.
General Information
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has engaged in numerous anti-racist initiatives. Namely, the university offers anti-racism training to students. Several departments have released their responses to the death of George Floyd. The school has an Office of Equity and Diversity, an Office of Multicultural Student Life, and a Council for Diversity and Inclusion which host numerous programs and events for anti-racism. UTPD has also held an event in response to the death of George Floyd. See developments below:

Actions Taken

Anti-Racism, Bias, and Diversity Training
  • Students in the Master's of Social Work program were urged to attend trainings that separated the students by their race, provided by the White Accountability Group and the Black, Indigenous, Multiracial People of Color Affinity Group. Part of the orientation, these programs "are an integral part of the CSW Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programming and Diversity Action Plan" because they discuss "how implicit bias, racism, and white supremacy impact the CSW's culture and climate," as the College of Social Work (CSW) explained.
  • The school has set a University Libraries Diversity Action Plan which involves professional development and training for diversity.
  • UTK's School of Social Work will be hosting a virtual education webinar titled "Check All That Apply: How Performative Anti-Racism Does More Harm" with Dr. Carmen Reese Foster on June 20, 2023. Learning objectives include identifying performative and intellectual acts of anti-racism, demonstrating how performative anti-racism and allyship is harmful, and discussing ways to authentically embrace anti-racism and to dismantle racist policies and practices.
  • The School of Social Work hosted a virtual webinar titled "Racism is a Public Health Issue" with Benaias Esayeas on Feb 15, 2023.
  • UTK Libraries' Diversity Committee hosted a virtual "Lunch and Learn: How to Be an Anti-Racist - From Theory to Practice" lecture on September 17, 2020.
  • On June 9, 2020, the Office of the Dean of Students collaborated with the College of Social Work, Office of Multicultural Student Life, and representatives from the Student Government Association to host a "RockyTopics: Allyship and Antiracism" webinar following the death of George Floyd.
Curriculum Changes and Requirements
  • The B.A. in Sociology program has a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies concentration.
  • According to the National Association of Scholars, the university's College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences announced that "all departmental instructors will interpret and reflect on DEI perspectives in their own curriculum and instruction (self-work - e.g., personal biases, classroom power structures, etc.) for current courses instructed. (Self-knowledge development.)" and "all departmental instructors will apply DEI skill sets and dispositions in their own curriculum and instruction."
  • According to NAS, the university's Haslam School of Business will "further develop class curricula addressing issues related to disparities, systemic injustice, and social inequities."
  • According to NAS, the university's College of Communication and Information will "mandate participation in providing DEI and cultural competency content in courses" and "encourage and support faculty to incorporate implicit bias, antiracism, and allyship curricula in their courses, where appropriate."
  • According to NAS, the university's Tickle College of Engineering will "require students to attend the DEI session and write a two-page reflection essay that summarizes the seminar content and evaluates their own biases and professional conducts. The Harvard Implicit Association Test might be included as part of this assignment if the instructor finds it helpful."
  • According to the NAS, the university Provost’s Office will "facilitate departmental review and update of curriculum and individual courses to address inequities."
  • According to NAS, the university's College of Architecture and Design will "develop a DEI Program Learning Outcome for each program" and "engage school curriculum committees to establish one or more upper level courses where content from foundational DEI curriculum is reiterated, reemphasized, and honed."
  • According to NAS, the university's College of Social Work will "adopt and integrate theoretical frameworks (e.g., womanist, social constructionist, and critical race theory) into relevant courses in BSSW, MSSW, PhD, and DSW programs." Additionally, "students at every level will be assessed on their critical consciousness related to anti-racism and social justice, with 90% rating 4 or above on 5 point scale."
Faculty/Staff Requirements
  • According to NAS, the university's College of Communication and Information will "require DEI Statement from all applicants."
  • According to NAS, the university's College of Architecture and Design announced that in job announcements, it will "require applicants to submit a value statement on diversity, equity and inclusion."
  • According to NAS, the university's College of Architecture and Design noted that an assessment of DEI would be included in faculty teaching reviews and staff evaluations.
  • According to NAS, the university's Tickle College of Engineering announced there would be "explicit consideration of DEI work in annual performance reviews and promotion and tenure recommendations" and "updates to all department bylaws to explicitly include DEI contributions as part of annual performance review and P&T review."
  • According to NAS, the university's School of Social Work said it would "review Retention, Promotion and, Tenure procedures for equity and inclusion."
Political Actions and Support for Anti-Racism
  • In August 2020, Knox News reported that several Vols Black student-athletes lead an anti-racism demonstration on campus. The march came one day after the 57th anniversary of the original March on Washington and six days after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back. UTK administrators supported the demonstration: system President Randy Boyd, Chancellor Donde Plowman, Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer, and head football coach Jeremy Pruitt all showed up at the Torchbearer.
Program and Research Funding
  • The University Libraries Diversity Action Plan entails that funding will be dedicated towards "active recruitment and retention of individuals from underrepresented groups."
  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has a website dedicated to offering resources for Black Lives Matter.
  • The Department of Anthropology hosted a Visiting Lecture Series in 2021 with the theme of "Decolonization, Anti-Racism, Abolition."
  • The College of Social Work has its own Office of Equity and Inclusion which offers numerous resources, events, and programs related to anti-racism.
  • The library offers numerous diversity resources.
  • The school has a website dedicated towards Diversity and Engagement, supported by the Office of Equity and Diversity. The school states that it is committed to "inclusive excellence."
  • The school's Office of Multicultural Student Life published an "Allyship and Anti-Racism Reading List" on June 16, 2020. This list includes "How to Be an Anti-Racist" by Ibram X. Kendi.
  • The school has a Council for Diversity and Inclusion. Furthermore, the school states, "The purpose of the Council for Diversity and Inclusion is to serve as a resource for the Division of Diversity and Engagement as it works toward creating inclusive learning and work environments. The Council achieves this through partnerships, monitoring diversity data, and education. The Council is an organization whose collaboration, communication, and accountability structure works with the Chancellor’s Commissions to create a culture of inclusive excellence."
  • The College of Architecture and Design offers resources for allyship and anti-racism.
  • The College of Arts and Sciences created an Allyship and Anti-Racism Initiative which involves hosting College Conversations and the Cost of Hate Symposium, both of which are related to anti-racism.
  • According to NAS, the university's Division of Diversity and Engagement will "partner with the Critical Race Collective (CRC) to create a CRC Center that will enhance research and scholarship capacity in this area of study and identify current racist policies and practices on campus."
  • According to the NAS, the university's Office of Research and Engagement will "support Critical Race Collective in hosting a minimum of 3 events per semester."
  • The National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) at UT seeks to "equip participants to facilitate conversations to advance inclusive excellence and promote coalitions to address shared societal challenges" through year-round leadership workshops that aim to create a more inclusive campus environment.
  • In February 2022, the Claremont Institute Center for the American Way of Life published a report titled "Critical Social Justice in Tennessee Higher Education: An Overview," which states that Critical Social Justice "undermines equal protection of the law— creating different standards of justice for minorities and the supposedly oppressive majority." The report draws connections between CSJ and DEI program/initiatives at UT. According to the report, "UTK has remarkably gone from almost no DEI infrastructure in 2018 to a fully built-out DEI infrastructure in the span of 4 years" and has "significant plans to spread this narrow ideology into all corners of the university."
  • In February 2022, the Claremont Institute Center for the American Way of Life published a report titled "Critical Social Justice at University of Tennessee Knoxville: A Case Study," and asks the question, "How far has CSJ advanced at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK)?" The report answers this questions and comes to the following conclusion: "UTK has a fully-built out, mature CSJ apparatus as of Spring 2021. Since the Tennessee General Assembly defunded the Office of Equity and Diversity in 2016, UTK’s Administration has built a significant bureaucracy that intrudes into all aspects of its operation. It has dozens of dean-level and three chancellor-level staff directing these efforts. Nearly every department has a Diversity Action Plan."
Symbolic Actions
  • The school states that, "The Office of Multicultural Student Life lists several Student Organizations doing invaluable work towards diversity, inclusion, and engagement."
  • The College of Arts and Sciences released a statement in response to the death of George Floyd.
  • The African Studies program released a statement saying, "Reflecting on the vicious and tragic end to the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, we the Core Faculty of the Africana Studies Program at the University of Tennessee strongly condemn ongoing blatant acts of white supremacist violence that result in the deaths of Black peoples."
  • The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences released a "Departmental Diversity Statement in the Wake of George Floyd's Death."
  • On June 5, 2020, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology released a statement saying, "The horrific issues of racism and police misconduct grabbing our attention lately are not news to the black members of our department, who experience it their entire lives. This racism, whether overt or unconscious, is present in our department, our field, and in our community."
  • The Department of Sociology released its "statement and resources on racial justice and police violence."
  • The University of Tennessee Police Department released a statement responding to the death of George Floyd. UTPD also held a virtual town hall on June 9, 2020.
  • The Chancellor asked the University Leadership Council to read How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, according to a report by the National Association of Scholars.
  • According to the National Association of Scholars, the Chancellor noted that "each unit on campus was developing a Diversity Action Plan." NAS notes, "while these plans had been under development since the previous year, Chancellor Plowman’s treated them as a way to make good on her promise to address the 'systemic racism and injustice prevalent throughout our society.'" NAS also reported that "every academic college issued a plan—from the Herbert College of Agriculture to the Tickle College of Engineering to the College of Architecture and Design. Likewise, every Vice-Chancellor Unit on campus issued plans, from the Provost’s Office to the Athletics Department."
  • Academic units at UTK created bias incident reporting systems. This means that students and faculty who fail to act in accordance with DEI ideology would be caught and punished.
  • UTK's Anti-Racism Learning Collaborative--a group of students, field instructors, round table leaders, CSW faculty, and staff--engage in learning to "reduce racism and promote anti-oppressive practices." The program is funded by the Social Justice Innovation Initiative (SJII) and the goal is to "encourage practice among students while inviting self-reflection regarding racism and bias that exists within individuals and community-based organizations."
  • After the shootings of Asian American women in Atlanta in 2021, the department of Anthropology released an antiracism statement in which it asserted that the crime was "white supremacist terror", denounced the "model minority" notion, and criticized "racial capitalism."
  • The Tickle College of Engineering released an anti-racism statement. Initiatives promised include revising the recruitment process to increase retention and success; increase the number of in-state, underserved, undergraduate engineering scholarships; and building new mentoring partnerships to enhance diversity in workforce and academia.
Last updated September 22nd, 2023
©2024 Critical Race Training in Education. All rights reserved.