On September 2, 2021, O’Neill Associate Professor Jamie Levine Daniel was sitting in her office meeting with a student. She doesn’t usually have her phone out, but that day she had left it on her desk.
She saw an alert pop up—an unexpected text message from a friend.
“He said, ‘Congrats on best article,’” she says. “I had no idea what he was talking about.”
Then came a screenshot of a tweet from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration’s (NASPAA) Journal of Public Affairs Education.
In the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days season, she—along with fellow Jewish colleagues Rachel Fyall and Jodi Benenson—had received the 2021 NASPAA JPAE Outstanding Article award for their article, “Talking about antisemitism in MPA classrooms and beyond.”
“It was completely unexpected,” Levine Daniel says. “We wrote the resource we wished had existed for us. We made the case for caring about antisemitism more broadly and within this frame of ‘othering’ and public service delivery.”
Othering, she explains, happens when one group of people decides and dictates who is considered a full citizen in any given community. Those who are not considered full citizens are cut off from services and the community—something public affairs professors and practitioners alike must actively work to oppose.
With its functional teaching tools and information on how to have difficult conversations, Levine Daniel says their article applies to the many groups that are often othered.
“It’s broader than just antisemitism,” she says. “You can take out antisemitism and plug in another group, and the learnings in our article are still applicable.”
The article has made waves in the public affairs community, partly due to the personal experiences woven throughout the article. Levine Daniel says this was the first time she included herself in her research but that she and her co-authors felt it was an important risk to take.
“It was scary for us to include our own voices, but we felt like we had to so people could know how their colleagues are being affected by antisemitism, from bigger incidents to microaggressions to general silence,” she says.
By sharing their experiences, they can help those outside the Jewish community better understand how to respond to their Jewish colleagues when antisemitism occurs.
The tools provided in the article have resonated across sectors. She and her co-authors have been invited to numerous panels, podcasts, and seminars to speak about their article—including by people who simply want to better understand how to address antisemitism in their own fields.
Yet the article is primarily focused on reaching and teaching public affairs professionals before they enter the workforce. The project not only helps instructors reevaluate how they’re teaching their public affairs students, it also changed how Levine Daniel approaches educating future leaders at O’Neill.
“For so long, I had buried my Jewish identity because I didn’t know how to verbalize that in the classroom,” she admits.
Now, she uses it as a springboard to invite inclusivity into discussions.
“This project has really informed my own teaching practice about equity in the classroom,” she says. “I feel more confident and adept in creating a classroom, a syllabus, and policies that are more equitable in general.”
She’s also gained confidence in stepping outside her traditional research purview of nonprofit resource acquisition and service delivery.
What they thought would be a one-off article has turned into a jumping-off point. Now, she and her co-authors are working on new ideas for future projects that specifically focus on addressing implicit biases in research. They want to create spaces in which people can interact with research, critiquing and contributing to it by providing feedback from their own life experiences.
“We want to focus on asking the questions about how we study what we study, who’s doing the work, and how can we interact to address issues as they arise,” she says. “Research has the ability to do harm when influenced by biases. That’s why it’s imperative we include diverse voices to ensure our research and our teaching methods alike reflect the communities we serve. Our article was a first step in that direction.”
Levine Daniel, Fyall, and Benenson will be recognized at the upcoming virtual NASPAA Annual Conference October 27–29.