Jeremy Goldbach, a professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, has a mission to spark conversations about race, gender and class — which is why he created a “diversity toolkit” for businesses, educators and other organizations to use.
“I haven’t met anyone that wouldn’t say we have problems in the U.S.,” Goldbach said.
The toolkit is a social activity that addresses those concerns, consisting of an icebreaker, five collaborate activities and a closing activity that promotes discourse applicable to a wide variety of environments.
“It tends to be spaces in social work and education who are the people who are reaching out more to use the toolkit,” Goldbach said. “My hope is that places like the bank and legal offices want to appreciate diversity in deeper ways. I think a lot of people have this sense of, ‘We need more diversity.’ But, I don’t think they know what it actually means to be an environment that welcomes diversity and see diversity as a strength as opposed to seeing it as something to put on a list.”
Goldbach has been working at USC for six years and conducts research on how discrimination affects young adults. He said the creation of the toolkit was a major step in his career.
Goldbach said he was inspired to create the kit by his observation that society struggles to have productive conversations surrounding diversity.
“We live in a world where people are very aware of the fact that there’s a lot of systems around power, oppression and discrimination,” Goldbach said. “A lot of the time it dissolves really quickly into, ‘You have power and I’m oppressed,’ and that’s not the best way for people to make reparations for these kinds of experiences.”
Goldbach has dedicated his work to promoting diversity and creating a healthy environment for young adults to discover their identities. In light of the current political climate, such as the white nationalist protests in Charlottesville in August, Goldbach believes that policy is a big part of change.
“The government plays an important role of ensuring the safety of the people, and not just the federal government,” Goldbach said. “We can also look at state governments, county governments, city governments — even neighborhood council. All of these different systems play a role and need to be thinking about the ways they’re ensuring safety and equity.”
He hopes that these institutions can implement ideas from the toolkit into how they craft policy and address citizens.
While Goldbach sees the importance of the role of government in encouraging the right conversations about diversity, he also recognizes the significance of the First Amendment and free speech.
“Just as we want a space to speak freely about issues of diversity, we want to be careful about how we limit other people’s free speech,” Goldbach said. “That said, if speech has an impact on other people’s safety, it becomes a different category. It’s not just speaking your mind; it’s actually putting other people in danger.”
Goldbach hopes to continue to work on promoting diversity and helping young adults celebrate their differences. He says his next step would be finding common ground among individuals who are oppressed in unique ways.
Throughout his time at USC, he has seen a shared experience among the people he works with and hopes to create an environment that allows these individuals to feel comfortable and safe.