Guiding Principles

The Institute’s mission and day-to-day operations are informed by a series of guiding principles. Two of these guiding principles, teaching during Covid-19 and the hiring and support of non-tenure track faculty, are outlined below:

The Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender builds on a statement of principles originally published by the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

As the University’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency evolves, all of us look forward to returning to the in-person teaching that forms the foundation of our shared intellectual life, when it is safe to do so. During this extraordinary time of crisis, we come together as a community—of scholars, teachers, archivists, students, and administrators—to affirm the following principles, which shall guide our response and our actions going forward:


First and foremost, we commit to preserving the health, safety, and well being of all members of our community.

Striving for Equity

We especially recognize the challenges faced by our students—particularly those already in difficult circumstances shaped by the inequities of wealth, race, ability, accessibility, environment, citizenship, or residency status. Therefore, we are committed to adapting our teaching approaches using every tool at our disposal to meet the varied circumstances and the needs of our students, as well as the ongoing developments in public health. This aims to provide the best teaching and learning environment possible in order to uphold the scholarly mission at the Institute.


While technological innovation in the classroom is important, we are reluctant to burden our instructors and students with new, cumbersome, and costly tools. Instead, we propose to innovate the methods that are the core of our classrooms, being guided by best practices and by technology already in use widely among instructors and students. In doing so, we draw upon the rich resources and research in digital pedagogy.

Individual and Communal Choices

We trust in the wisdom and experience of our faculty and staff at the Institute, in conversation with each other and with our students, to make personal choices about how best to preserve the safety, health, and equity of their classes while maintaining teaching and learning excellence.


In making decisions we rely also on the long-standing traditions and established mechanisms of faculty self -governance at Columbia, within the Institute, and across the Arts and Sciences. Our decisions as a University grow stronger when we respond with many diverse voices, after careful consideration and discussion, and with respect to the existing advisory structures.


Finally, tenured members of our community affirm the need to protect our more vulnerable colleagues from undue pressure contrary to the above principles: lecturers, staff, untenured faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral research fellows, and adjunct faculty. We stand with them in support and with all others struggling to cope with this crisis.


Today, more than ever, our (real and virtual) doors are open for your questions, concerns, and comments. Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Non-Tenure-Track teachers are a crucial part of teaching at Columbia, including ISSG.

ISSG seeks to be on the forefront of establishing equitable working conditions for our NTT colleagues, particularly in terms of hiring, establishing and communicating rights and responsibilities, and clarifying and regularizing the security of their employment and the remuneration for it. Based on the recommendations outlined in the MLA’s 2011 paper on “Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members: Recommendations and Evaluative Questions,” we make the following recommendations:

  1. ISSG needs to establish clear procedures for hiring NTT faculty, including last minute hires. NTT faculty will be hired by a committee composed of the Director, the Associate Director, and one additional faculty member from the EC.  They will consider course descriptions, teaching evaluations, quality of scholarship, and a personal interview before making a decision.
  2. ISSG NTT faculty will be paid a minimum of $7000 per course, a sum that exceeds Columbia’s standard NTT compensation.
  3. The ISSG Director, in conversation with the appropriate University Offices should inform all NTT instructors about their responsibilities, benefits, and rights (including grievance procedures) in an official letter.
  4. The ISSG Director will offer performance reviews, at the end of the semester, or year, depending upon the appointment.
  5. NTT faculty will be invited to all ISSG events and will be integrated into the intellectual life of the Institute. NTT faculty teaching on a regular basis, three or more years, may be invited to serve on the EC and on subcommittees.