The Groundwater Approach to Racial Equity Workshop


A Groundwater Approach to Racial Equity presented by Racial Equity Institute (REI) is an interactive presentation on the nature and impact of structural racism. It examines narratives around racial disproportionality and makes use of compelling evidence to illustrate the systemic nature of racism and the fallacy of typical explanations that often get associated with particular racial groups. Before addressing racial inequity or perceived acts of discrimination or oppression, it is important to understand what institutional racism looks like and the devastating impact it wields on our nation’s people, economy and social institutions. The "Groundwater Approach" teaches how to use data to measure the systemic impact of racism and to track institutional change.

In this virtual webinar, REI organizers will use stories and data to present a perspective that racism is fundamentally structural in nature. By examining characteristics of modern-day racial inequity, the presentation introduces participants to an analysis that most find immediately helpful and relevant. The "Groundwater" metaphor is designed to help practitioners at all levels internalize the reality that we live in a racially structured society, and that that is what causes racial inequity. The metaphor is based on three observations:

  1. Racial inequity looks the same across systems,
  2. Socio-economic difference does not explain the racial inequity; and,
  3. Inequities are caused by systems, regardless of people’s culture or behavior.

More information about the "Groundwater Approach" is available in the pdf created by REI, The Groundwater Approach: Building a practical understanding of structural racism


What is Racial Equity Institute (REI)?
REI is a Black-owned business comprised of a multiracial team of organizers and trainers who are committed to the work of anti-racism transformation. Their training and consulting programs are designed to help individuals, organizations, and communities grow their understanding and analysis of structural racism and its cultural and historic roots.

Are all students, faculty, and staff required to participate in one of the REI Groundwater workshops?
Yes, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to participate in an REI Groundwater workshop by December 2021.

Is the workshop open to the public?
No, at this time only the Bowdoin community may participate in the workshop.

How do I sign up for one of the workshops?
Choose a date and click on the link to register.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, September 18, 2021, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 11:40 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.
Saturday, October 2, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 1:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 18, 2021, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, December 2, 2021, 11:40 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.
Friday, December 3, 2021, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

How long are the workshops?
The workshops run for three hours, and it is critical that all attendees participate for the full three hours. Please note, however, that there will be short breaks included in the three hours.

Are the workshops being held virtually or in person?
All the workshops for the fall 2021 semester will be held virtually. 

Do I have to do any homework to prepare for the workshop?
No, there is no pre-work required to participate in the workshop.

Do I get paid for the time it takes to complete the course?
Hourly staff will be paid for the time it takes to complete the workshop, including if it is not part of your regularly scheduled work hours. If you have questions about recording your time, please talk to your supervisor or contact Human Resources.