At the Marcon Institute, we believe that racism, heteronormativity, sexism, classism, and other oppressive structures intersect to diminish life chances for some members of our community. We are committed to research methodologies and practices that minimize and ameliorate oppression and exploitation of the persons and systems we study.  Thus, we commit to ongoing self-reflection and assessments of our collaborative work to ensure that we do no harm to those that we profess to protect and empower. 

We value and practice honesty, integrity, trust, respect, accuracy-motivated reasoning, and competence.  These values form the foundation and the heart of our intentions and interactions with one another and our community partners.  We will respect one another’s ideas, labor, and intellectual property. While we join this work as a collective, we recognize the various walks of life, stages of career, personal experiences, etc. that each member brings to our work.  We acknowledge each other’s humanity and are foremost attentive to the care, support, and respect that each person needs and deserves. 

The late, great Gloria Jean Watkins published her first book, Ain’t I a Woman (1981), under the name bell hooks to honor her maternal great grandmother. She never capitalized the pen name she published her more than 40 books under in an effort to shift the focus from identity to ideas. Her ideas, her body of work, serve as the foundational theories that guide our actions/interventions. At the Marcon Institute, LOVE is the organizing principle. And for bell hooks, love is action. When we act with indifference, contempt, or the desire to dominate others, we create separation, the process of othering begins, our sense of belonging is undermined, and conflict is engendered. 

Cornell West is credited with stating publicly many times that “justice is the public face of love.” And Audre Lorde teaches us that even the well-meaning can perpetuate racism. Consequently, we must LISTEN carefully to those whose lived experiences afford them tremendous knowledge of racist systems and ACT with integrity and good faith (a focus on solving the problem and the intention to follow through on our agreements). Furthermore, many scholars of Black political thought teach us that White supremacy is a problem that people with White privilege must do the work to repair. “Lehigh’s unequivocal commitment to being an institution that strives to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity” has been articulated in the DI&E Strategic Plan (2021-2026). Lehigh is thus the right time and place to do the work of antiracism, to uplift the connections that center our shared humanity. The Marcon Institute will plant the seeds, cultivate the cultural connections, and grow the commitments to antiracism – at Lehigh, in our local communities, and then study and share our successes.

Eric Fromm defines love as “the willingness to extend oneself for one’s own or another’s personal or spiritual growth.” John Powell, Director of the Haas Institute for Inclusive Society, defines spiritual growth as that which enhances our understanding of our humanity, and he points out that violence breaks our spirit. Therefore, progress toward antiracism necessitates creating a space where we can all thrive. One in which violence is not tolerated. Creating the space where we can work collectively to build connections that uplift. This means that the Marcon Institute is a space to be present (during the difficult times and times of joy) without separation (which Powell teaches us is the first phase in the cognitive process of othering).  It is a loving space (empathetic), caring, nurturing, and co-creating.  A vulnerable space in which stories can be shared. 

Malcolm X teaches us to “make it plain.” Following that wisdom, we encourage “speaking freely,” and we pursue golisdiyi (go-lee-s-dee-yee). Golisdiyi is the Cherokee word for understanding. We can only reach understanding if people feel free to speak their minds with the intention to understand and not dominate. When we “make it plain,” we are attempting to generate understanding, facilitate learning, and confront oppression.

We seek progress toward racial and social  justice. Our objectives are to provide educational value to students and the community and facilitate antiracist transformation in society through research, teaching, policy advocacy, and cultural change that centers empathy and compassion. So, what does success look like? 

  • Diversity is valued, not merely for the uniqueness of the contributions or the financial resources gained, but for the learning, growth, and joy we can all gain from the stronger sense of belonging.
  • Equity is understood to be a means to achieve healthy communities and an end that benefits us all and more people and policies are based on equitable principles. Equity requires that we unpack historical patterns of oppression and restore a sense of justice in which everyone has access to the resources and opportunities to thrive.
  • Inclusion is the feeling of belonging, and enhancing the sense of belonging for more and more people in the community, particularly for those who have been historically marginalized and excluded, is key to the success of antiracist efforts. 
Diversity is valued in the Lehigh community and beyond Integrative, collaborative approach to community engagement Trauma-informed approach to healing racial trauma Asset-based community strengthening strategies Curricular & co-curricular program development Public facing scholarship Better student, faculty, and staff recruitment and retention & More descriptive and substantive representation among community leadership
Equity is understood to be a means to achieve healthy communities and an end that benefits us all Public facing scholarship educates increasingly more community members about the historical and current patterns of oppression that inform equitable policies & more antiracist policy proposals designed to promote equity are institutionalized
Greater sense of belonging fostered in the community Autoethnographies and surveys indicate an enhanced sense of belonging on campus and in the wider community



  • Develop and enhance the mission & prevent mission drift
  • Facilitate commitments to incorporate racial and social justice in policy and practice
  • Strategic planning in consultation with the advisory board
  • Planning and ensuring the success of the Radical Love Conference
  • Engage in consistent progress evaluation and impact assessments
  • Support and mentorship for fellows, staff, and board members
  • Spread joy

  • Provide feedback on the vision and prevent mission drift
  • Participate in strategic planning
  • Contribute to the success of the Radical Love Conference
  • Evaluate the progress and celebrate successes
  • Spread joy

  • Follow through on the proposed project in a manner consistent with the mission and values
  • Attend regular progress meetings for fellows
  • Present a poster on your project progress at the Lehigh University Summer Research Expo
  • Participate in the Radical Love Conference
  • Spread joy