June 04, 2019

Ombuds as Part of a Social Justice Framework for Associations

A recent article published by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education highlights the role of Ombuds as part of a social justice framework being adopted by more professional academic associations. Authors Kimberly A. Mealy and Kathy L. Powers say that there are three justice mechanisms being offered to association members finally deal with various forms of harassment and other violations of professional ethics: 1. An Organizational Ombuds for annual meetings; 2. An online reporting platform; and 3. Campaigns to set a positive tone and climate for conferences.

The article focuses on the American Political Science Association, which created an Ombuds program two years ago:
The APSA annual meeting ombuds first appeared at the 2017 annual meeting and was among the first of its kind for a professional association. In designing this resource, APSA innovated the co-ombuds model which includes two onsite ombuds — one who was a trained organizational ombuds (in this case, a professional university ombuds) and the other, an association member who has extensive training and experience in faculty advising, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Having the co-ombuds model in place enables a collaborative approach. The ombuds work as a team to support the needs of meeting attendees.
They also serve as a resource to one another. At the end of each meeting, the co-ombuds issue an aggregate report (which contains no specifics or identifiers) to association leaders so that the association can learn more about patterns and broader climate issues.
(Diverse: Issues In Higher Ed.)

Related posts: American Political Science Association Launches Ombuds Program; Ombuds Year in Review: 2017 (#2 Special Interest Groups Begin Appointing Ombuds to Protect Members).

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