University of Oregon psychology professor Jennifer Freyd has launched a new research and educational organization dedicated to institutional transparency and equity. The non-profit organization is called the Center for Institutional Courage.
According to the organization’s website, institutional courage is “an institution’s commitment to seek the truth and engage in moral action, despite unpleasantness, risk, and short-term cost. It is a pledge to protect and care for those who depend on the institution. It is a compass oriented to the common good of individuals, institutions, and the world. It is a force that transforms institutions into more accountable, equitable, healthy places for everyone.”
Freyd founded the organization in response to her research on and experience with “institutional betrayal,” which is when an organization causes harm to people who depend upon it.
According to a KLCC report, Freyd sued the UO more than two years ago for violating federal law by paying her less than her male colleagues in the Psychology Department. She tried to get the University to address the matter before she resorted to a lawsuit. In May 2019, a federal judge granted the University’s request to dismiss the case. Freyd has appealed to the 9th Circuit asking the court to grant a jury trial. A public petition of support for Freyd’s law suit garnered more than 1,000 signatures. She says she’s grateful for the support of her colleagues and other organizations.
In her announcement about the new organization, Freyd said, “With the help of an incredible team of supporters and scholars, I am excited to launch the Center for Institutional Courage, Inc. Our nonprofit research and educational organization will focus on the movement for transparency and equity. We are committed to stop the harm that occurs when institutions fail the very populations they are should nurture and protect.”
Freyd continued, “This would be a challenging task even without a pandemic and now, because of our crisis, the need to replace institutional betrayal with institutional courage has additional urgency. I believe with all my heart and mind that with an intensive program of research, publication and advocacy, and with our outreach to many audiences, we will make a difference in today’s world.”
“I invite you to tour our website at https://www.institutionalcourage.org/ to see the hope we feel and to learn about the work we plan to accomplish,” she said. “If you are interested in receiving our future mailings please sign up on the join us page: https://www.institutionalcourage.org/join-us.”