Important Dates

  1. February 10 to 17: Sign-up window for the Challenge
  2. After February 18: Discussion meeting Zoom links and passwords sent out
  3. Challenge meetings dates on Fridays:
    • February 26, 2:00 – 2:45: introduction and kick-off meeting
    • March 5th, 12th, 19th, 2:00 – 3:00ish: discussions led by facilitator
    • April 2, 2:00 – 3:00: optional post-Challenge next steps session
    • Participation in all of the meetings are strongly encouraged 

The Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) Inclusion, Diversity, Equity (IDE) Committee is hosting this Challenge to ensure students, staff, researchers, and faculty have a baseline knowledge and shared understanding of racism in our workplaces and society. Because of initiatives to increase cross-Institute IDE efforts, we are inviting other Institutes under the Research and Innovation Office to join this Challenge. Institutes join the Challenge through cost-sharing expenses and providing breakout room monitors to bring this opportunity to their communities. The following Institutes are partnering in this Challenge: ATLAS, BioFrontiers InstituteCIRES, IBG, IBS, ICS, INSTAAR, JILA, LASP, Museum of Natural History, RASEIRenée Crown Wellness Institute.


  • Members from partnering Institutes take a self-paced Anti-Racism course for three weeks and attend weekly facilitated discussions.


  • Completing this Challenge together gives us common language and understanding to work collaboratively to move toward being anti-racist, anti-oppressive, welcoming and inclusive organizations. This in turn will improve the recruitment and retention of diverse employees through the creation of a more inclusive workplace. The foundation we gain will also make future skills training such as bystander and microaggressions interventions more meaningful and effective. Since research data is clear that taking a skills course or workshop alone does not often lead to changes in behaviors and actions, we are offering weekly facilitated discussions to help us take knowledge, internalize it, and apply it to practice.


  • The core of the Challenge is the CU Boulder Coursera Anti-Racism 1 three-week course developed by UCB Ethnic Studies’ Shawn O’Neal and Jennifer Ho. This course is free.
  • If you have already completed the CU Coursera Anti-Racism 1 course, you can join the Discussion Days.
  • If Anti-Racism 2 course is ready on time, those who have already taken this level one course may choose to take the level two course being released at the end of this month. This will be for the usual Coursera fee, though Shawn is in discussion with the CU MOOCs people about fee waivers or reduced fee for auditing the Anti-Racism 2 course.


  • Shawn O’Neal is our discussion facilitator and leader. He co-authored the Anti-Racism 1, 2, and 3 courses, is a 4th year Ethnic Studies PhD candidate, ABD.
  • Each breakout room will have a room facilitator.
  • Shawn and other Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) facilitators will moderate a breakout room each week for those BIPOC individuals who indicate a desire to join this room.


This Challenge is limited to members of participating Institutes named at the top of the page because of the cost-sharing arrangements needed to cover expenses.

The discussion questions and framework is being built by the facilitator and co-author of the Anti-Racism 1, 2, 3 courses, Shawn O'Neal. The goal of the discussions to help people take mind-knowledge and begin to embody it in their hearts. Story/experience sharing and putting ‘People’ versus ‘Information’ at the center of discussions is a priority.

We are aiming to keep the rooms to around 10 people each. Each room will have a trained room-facilitator.

Currently the plan is for rooms to be pre-assigned each week, randomly mixing up people from all participating Institutes. Some groups may be pre-assigned, others may be assgined on the day of each discussion meeting - Zoom restrictions will determine how this will work. A BIPOC identity room will be offered to meet this room's unique needs, questions, content, and led by Shawn and other BIPOC facilitators. Specialty breakout rooms for those who previously completed Anti-Racism 1 course will be offered. 

Most BIPOC individuals experience prejudice, bias, and microaggressions, but some do not experience systemic racism (prejudice plus power). The course content will help ground you in how race and racism education is taught to non-BIPOC individuals, understand the pervasiveness and harm of systemic and institutional racism, provide readings that may further your own knowledge and awareness, and provide opportunities to speak about thoughts and feelings that arise as a person not of the dominant culture, ethnicity, and race. Also, BIPOC consciously and unconsciously contribute to the perpetuation of white supremacist culture, and becoming aware of our own contribution to oppressive culture and how to shift our own behaviors will be addressed. And no matter our identity as BIPOC, the course teaches us about the intersectionality of oppression. The BIPOC identity discussion groups will also offer connections and community that will continue beyond the Challenge discussion meetings: a monthly BIPOC identity social/support group is in the works.

The Institute of Cognitive Science is a formal CU Boulder institute under the guidance of the Research and Innovation Office.