Exclusive Interview with Dean | Improving Diversity and Racial Relations at IE


On Thursday evening I sat down for an interview with Dean Susana Malcorra of the IE School of Global and Public affairs to discuss the ongoing updates in response to calls to action by students to review ethics policies at IE. 

Malcorra, who joined IEU back in March, has been continually involved in the policy reviews that the university has undertaken to address questions about ethics, diversity, and inclusion. Since our meeting with herself and other faculty members back in June, the dean brings many updates. 

Following the Zoom meeting, Borja Santos and Malcorra sent a letter to myself and the five students that were present at the meeting outlining the proceeding actions they would take.

Francia: “Since we last spoke, and in the letter you sent when you and the other members representative of the administration were there, you stated a few points in the meeting and in the letter itself.

“You said you would get back to us with a plan, which you did in the letter. Added modules dealing with racism and/or implicit biases, transparency about the structure of the different resources the students could access, a larger meeting with more students present, a cultural training, and of course proceeding internally with management.

“What developments or what changes have taken place since then?”

Formal announcements, she assured, are on their way to the entire student body. However, readers get to preview those actions here at The Stork.

Susana: “What we did around the time we met is that we set up two tracks: I set up a track within the School [of Global and Public Affairs], and there is a committee on diversity at the level of the School [GPA], and that is within my authority. And then another track was set led by Santiago [Iñiguez], by the president, where we discuss the broader issues across all the schools. At the IE level.” (edits mine)

The internal track, set up and led by the dean herself, deals with the challenges of tackling global issues within the academic context.

Susana Malcorra new Dean GPA

Susana: “[W]e have set up a special effort to broaden the representation, not only of professors, of different backgrounds, different races, different origins—but also to set up a broader ecosystem of partners that will help us bring that perspective. For example, we are now discussing with the Mandela School (the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance), in partnership, to bring an African perspective. We are discussing with the Lee Kuan Yew School [of Public Policy]

“What I’m trying to do, is from a substantive perspective, really make sure that we have what we aim to have, which is a very global view, and that we provide the students with that global view. We are reviewing at this time the MIR, and we have reviewed the BIR as you know, with the partnership with the [UN] Staff College.” (edits mine)

Francia: “That would be the International Relations course?”

Susana: “Yes. The bachelor in International Relations and the master in International Relations.”

In a later follow-up, she clarified that the university is in discussion for a partnership with both the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of Singapore. However, the university has already formed official partnerships with “among others: Organization of American States (OAS),  OECD, UN System Staff College (UNSSC), UN International Trade Center (ITC), UN Women, International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Harvard Kennedy School.  They participate in different ways: design of our programs, scholarships, fellowships, immersion weeks, dialogue series, etc.”

Susana: “So, we have now redefined the bachelor in international relations after reviewing it with the UN Staff College […] Make sure that we strengthen the perspective of content, that it’s not biased, that it has a global representation, and also faculty that has better representation. And make sure that we live up to what we say we are.”

In addition to the work being done at the level of the IEGPA, the President of the IE, Santiago Iñiguez, set up the Working Group on Ethics and Diversity. The WG, as I will refer to it henceforth, is comprised of six members: Antonio de Castro, Celia De-Anca, Mar Hurtado, Felicia Appenteng, Macarena Rosado Corral, Candela Terriza, Julio de Castro, and the dean herself.

The WG is reviewing policies written in the Code of Ethics and the training that goes alongside these. 

Susana:That Code of Ethics should address some of the questions of clarity that were brought up. Then, what we are going to do is clarify the process to manage these. And the code of ethics is going to address ethical issues and diversity issues, both of them. […]  We are going to streamline the process, and there is going to be a clear definition of a first line to deal with these issues, which is going to be at the level of the programs. The program team is going to be the go-to place to deal with these issues, […] If they need to address questions that require the Wellness Team involved, whatever is needed, they will be able to reach out as a resource and support. Then there is going to be the ethics committee, which, should an issue not be properly resolved, it should go to the Ethics Committee and the Ethics Committee will handle it.

“And—to be announced—there is going to be a person for bachelors and a person for masters as the last resort to appeal should there be no satisfactory answer.”

reopening ie 1

Furthermore, Malcorra explained that those in the Ethics Committee, and at every level within each program will receive updated training concerning issues having to do with “ignorance, or lack of touch, that are wrong”. 

The WG plans to partner with the university clubs, as well, to sensitize and train, “to put together cases that explain in a very clear manner” different situations in which students need to be aware of their behavior. Such content review and partnerships are expected this week. Additionally, they are working to revise the training of faculty and staff.

Susana: “[W]e are also planning to set up yearly reports that show, at a statistical level—we will not refer to any particular case, this is going to be protecting privacy—but we hope to provide information on a yearly basis on what has happened with the number of cases, how they have been handled, how they have been resolved.”

Francia: “This would be published?”

Susana: “Yes.”

Francia: “What standards are you using to measure the betterment of diversity and inclusion? Were they curated by the university? Or do they come from somewhere else? Are you getting coaches or something like that?”

Susana: “I want to make sure that we talk about the whole, because racism is only one aspect of this issue of diversity. We have used comparators to what other universities or schools are using, that is part of the input. […] Let me give you an example, I reached out to the United Nations to use their capabilities on the question of diversity. I can assure you that there are not many places that have such a high threshold on diversity as the UN. So we are going to use whatever we can. But we do have in-house resources.

“And there are no standards. We need to push as far as we can go, but it’s not that there is a whole standard, that doesn’t exist. We have to always push the envelope a little bit further.”

Much of the reason that the university mobilized to review these issues is due to the students demanding a change. Many were concerned that the administration would only attempt to ease tensions within the student body instead of effecting actual policy upgrades.

Francia: “Internally, within the IEGPA and then in the university at large, do you guys have any goals that you would like to reach? Or would it just be the knowledge that students feel more comfortable, would you say that that’s the goal, or good feedback from students? What are you expecting from these new procedures?”

Susana:  “So the objective is to be up to our principles, to our values, and to what we say we are. We claim to be a very diverse university, we claim to be respectful of people who think differently, that we embrace that as something that is an important value for our students. So in order to do that you have to have in place the proper management.

“[…] So we have to have freshness, we have to have these cases that showcase examples, and all of that should help us give life to the issue. Because this is not an issue that you can only put on paper, you have to really transmit it.”  

So here we are, all of us, doing our best to truly transmit our committment to each other. I hope that these changes—the updated Code of Ethics, new faculty and staff trainings, the expanded curricula, growing faculty, and all the things to come—may achieve not only the transmission that IE is willing to evolve and grow for an with its student body; but that students may also find a better, safer, and more welcoming environment within which to develop.

*Note: Readers should expect more upcoming information and updates about IEU’s new policies and changes.

*DISCLAIMER: Some quotes were edited for length and clarity.

More from Author



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here