This statement is one of our core principles at the College of Natural Sciences (CNS), and we recognize that the systemic oppression, abuse, and killing of Black and brown people across the United States means we have a long way to go toward removing the inequality that permeates all levels of our society. For this reason, CNS has committed to increase awareness of white privilege and racism in our institution, and to convert that knowledge to action through guided discussions, trainings, and workshops, so that we may become effective allies.
Our Commitment to Diversity
The College of Natural Sciences (CNS) is committed to increasing, retaining, and supporting the success of faculty and students who have been historically underrepresented in academic science. The college advances this goal through policies, programs, and working groups implemented at a college-wide level and also through individual departments. Focused efforts are made to remove the barriers that prevent full participation of all scientists and scientists-in-training, including women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities. CNS initiatives to promote equity and inclusion are in support of the University's Diversity Mission, which includes a commitment to inclusion of historically underrepresented groups and belief that a culturally diverse campus is integral to academic excellence.
OUR PRIORITIES INCLUDE ADVANCING:
RESPECT for the contributions of each member of our community and for their essential role in achieving excellence in our mission
AWARENESS of perspectives beyond our own personal experience
OUR VALUES regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion through transparency in expectations and commitment to accountability for all members of our community
COMMUNITY through engagement and interactions
EMPOWERMENT AND A SENSE OF AGENCY through informed and inclusive decision making
INCENTIVIZATION to recognize and reward exemplary commitment and success
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION through application of best practices in recruitment, retention, and advancement of all community members
INTERPERSONAL SKILLS to promote civility and inclusivity in the workplace and in the classroom
LEARNING COMMUNITIES through the sharing of knowledge across units
In CNS, we strive to create a culture in which every person is empowered to realize their aspirations and in which we are inspired to think in new ways by seeing the world beyond the limits of our own lived experience through our interactions with one another. This path is the most authentic route through which to pursue our mission because it centers opportunity for all as the foundation of our success.
We must acknowledge that working toward this goal can seem especially overwhelming in the context of our society at this challenging time. Without question, we have much more to accomplish as a college, campus and society.
Although we have much more work to do in creating an environment rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion, transparency in our on-going dedication and commitment to that goal is also an essential component of our work. Some of the efforts from the academic year, organized by our self-identified priorities, include:
- Recognized graduate students, staff and faculty with awards for outstanding contributions to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our college.
- Reorganized CNS DEI webpage to provide resources for further learning and action.
- Continued a distinguished faculty speaker series in collaboration with College of Engineering that invites highly accomplished scientists and engineers from underrepresented groups to campus who give a research talk open to the public and a professional development seminar for graduate students and postdocs highlighting lessons learned from their own careers in science.
- CAFE and CHC co-sponsored The Daffodil Lecture, “Seeking the Justice in Environmental Sustainability Work: How Far We’ve Come and Where We Go” by Olivia Aguilar.
- In collaboration with UMass Inclusive Excellence:
- hosted the Bryan Dewsbury lecture (“The Revolution will be Backward Designed”) and workshop (“We are talking about practice! -Considering specific strategies for your classroom”) on inclusive practices in and outside the classroom
- co-sponsored with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, an April Diversity Week with virtual presentations by two national leaders in inclusion in higher education:
- Dr. Kelly Mack, “That None Shall Perish: A Conversation on Equitable Student Success in STEM"
- Dr. Tia Brown McNair, “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk”
- Provided faculty with “Tips for Inclusive Teaching” for more effective remote instruction.
- Led organizing “Standing Up with Asian and Asian American Folks: A UMass Amherst Community Forum and Dialogue on Building Solidarity” for the UMass campus.
- Continued and/or implemented exit surveys for faculty, staff, graduate students and postdocs in CNS.
- Supported iCONS workshop on DEI-sensitive pedagogy.
- CAFE hosted workshops on privilege, equity and inclusion and offered a 6-week webinar on “Essential Strategies for Building Racial Justice and Inclusion” by Kansas Association of Community Development Extension Professionals.
- Redesigned the CNS Scholarship Committee and process into one that is more equitable.
- Conducted gender equity analysis of CNS nominees for Conti Fellowship and nominees and recipients of CNS awards.
- Piloted Culturally Aware Mentor Training through the National Research Mentoring Network.
- Recruited new Director of Student Success and Diversity.
- Reorganized CNS leadership to expand positions to support our DEI efforts including a new Associate Dean of DEI and a new Director of Graduate Student and Postdoc Success and Diversity.
- Assisted in the collation of educational resources for the New Garden Society, which conducts educational outreach to prison populations in Massachusetts.
- Sponsored a Resilience Workshop for 12 undergraduate students.
- Established and held meetings of the Deans’ Student Advisory Council.
- Held community-building events for on-campus students including an ice cream study break and succulent give away.
- Held community-building events for online students including game nights and an online escape room.
- Hosted a virtual State of the College and Budget Town Hall.
- Facilitated the continuation and growth of ~10 mutual mentoring groups for women faculty and faculty of color. These groups include faculty at all ranks, cut across units, and are self-organized.
- Organized and held remote drop-in and advisory committee meetings for faculty, staff, and students with the Dean and Associate Deans.
- Promoted the regular use of annual performance reviews as coaching opportunities to advance both individual professional development and organizational effectiveness.
EMPOWERMENT AND A SENSE OF AGENCY
- Redesigned Climate Advisory Committee work to facilitate college-wide goals – recruit a diverse CNS community, ensure an environment where everyone belongs, promote dialogue – as well as local goals and provide individualized support to each committee.
- Co-hosted with UMass Inclusive Excellence two interactive workshops by Theater Delta on microaggression bystander training (How Can I Help?) and culturally competent graduate student mentoring (Cultivation; cohosted with the Graduate School).
- Held remote versions of BioPioneers, Forsythe-Grange Mentoring, and STEM Bridge and in-person Lee-SIP programming to support the academic success of undergraduates, particularly those from underserved populations.
- Conducted focus groups of Black of CNS undergraduate students with the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment.
- CAFE offered extension faculty and staff access to the Food Solutions New England 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge.
- The CAFE Climate Advisory Committee organized and facilitated a series of discussions about systemic racism in Extension Programming. The eight discussions with different Extension Leadership took place January 28 through April 7, 2021. After the series ended, the Climate Advisory Committee met and identified strategies and ideas to begin removing systemic obstacles to equity within Extension.
- Distributed $10,000 in support of unit-initiated activities to promote diversity, equity and inclusion locally.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
- Developed and submitted an NIH FIRST application to expand the recruitment of diverse faculty in the life sciences with the Colleges of Engineering, Information and Computer Science, and Nursing, and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences.
- Joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Driving Change Learning Communities and received a grant to support inclusion planning.
- Supported the development and submission of an NSF S-STEM application by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
- Supported the development and submission of an NSF IGE Application: Strategic Design Thinking to Enhance Self-Efficacy in Graduate Students by CNS Graduate Program Directors.
- Launched the “Picturing the Future of STEM” gallery of undergraduate students engaged in research in the Colleges of Natural Science, Engineering and Computer and information Sciences. The CNS photos appear in the Integrated Science Building.
- Launched the Inclusive Excellence Fellows program with seven teams of faculty and staff working on projects to increase equity and inclusion for CNS undergraduates.
- Held the STEM Summer Bridge Program, funded by a Mass DHE award, for students transferring from local community colleges, providing an opportunity to complete the required Junior Year Writing course and to participate in programming to ease their transition to UMass Amherst.
- Provided a DEI component in the charge meeting for CNS search committees in Fall 2019, in addition to a campus-wide STRIDE workshop for all search committee members.
- CNS search committees were given PhD availability statistics for gender and race relevant to their search and were required to share a plan for proactive outreach to attract a diverse pool of applicants for search approval.
- Provided facilitation for multiple groups within CNS.
- Hosted or co-hosted book club discussions – “Superior” by Angela Saini and “Black, Brown and Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation” by Ebony Omotola McGee.
- Participated in the OEI book club discussion – “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram Kendi.
- With the UMass Inclusive Excellence Program hosted Dr. Erin Dolan (University of Georgia) we held a three-day workshop to train ~25 faculty members in teaching courses as course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURES). CURES are known to increase student retention and sense of belonging. They are a particularly effective teaching tool for improving the experience for underrepresented student groups.
- Participated in the Building Capacity for Engaging in Transformative Racial Justice Practices Initiative, funded by Mass DHE.
- Co-facilitated meetings for the Racial Equity and Justice Institute for the Leading for Change Consortium.
The Climate Advisory Committees in each department and program across the college are hard at work on their goals for this year. I welcome all to join in the efforts of their department, school and/or program committee and to engage in on-going initiatives and activities in the college and across campus. Together, we will go farther faster. Please visit the CNS diversity, equity and inclusion website for resources and opportunities to learn more.
Taking Action at UMass Amherst to Combat Racism: A Message from Nefertiti Walker, Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our 2021-2022 Progress
Our vision for the College of Natural Sciences is to transform the opportunities created through the study, research, and application of science and mathematics into impact for the world. To do so, we must begin on our own campus, by ensuring an environment in which every member of our faculty, staff, professional team, and student body can identify, pursue, and succeed in the path that best expresses their creativity, develops their talents, supports their career aspirations, and fulfills their passions.
We firmly believe that this vision unites us while also acknowledging that access to this vision differs for members of our community based on their lived experiences both on and off of our campus. We are deeply grateful for the efforts by so many members of CNS, particularly students, to bridge this gap between our aspirations and our reality. Although we have much more to accomplish together and for one another, we are honored to share our progress during the 2021-2022 academic year, which reflects our on-going commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging (DEIJB) in the college. This year, we organized the reporting of our efforts to align with the petition developed by UMass for Black Lives, with gratitude for their leadership.
Mandating structural changes that create a more inclusive academic environment
- Provided financial support for on-ramp programs for graduate students in the IDGPs and Physics and funding for the American Geophysical Union Bridge Fellowship
- Instituted fee waivers for admission to graduate school for applicants from groups that are underrepresented in the discipline
- Participated in STEM pipeline programs for middle and high school students (i.e. the Massenberg Institute and Eureka!)
- Renewed the NSF Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program with the goal of diversifying the nation's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce by increasing the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to populations historically underrepresented in these disciplines and supported 10 LSAMP scholars this academic year
- Undertook college-wide strategic planning process and prioritized analysis of student outcomes by demographic group and the development of institutional strategies to promote success for all
- Completed a self-evaluation and external USDA Civil Rights audit including on campus visits and evaluation of graduate and undergraduate support
- Encouraged the adoption of the Academic Works software platform to promote an equitable and transparent awarding of CNS and Department scholarships
- Required the use of the student success software platform, Navigate, for all summer 2022 advising appointments for new students (first year and transfers) to ensure that all students have an equitable experience
- Led an effort to provide transparency and resolve holds on student accounts that prohibited them for enrolling in Fall 2022 courses
- Organized and sponsored an Inclusive Excellence Fellows program where 7 teams of faculty and staff across CNS worked on projects aimed at increasing inclusion in our undergraduate experience
- Met with 684 students, many BIPOC, for advising through the CNS Office of Student Success and Diversity
- Participated in PACE (Partnerships for Advancing Completion Equity), a campus-wide effort to increase the graduation of BIPOC students in the graduating class of May 2022
- Participated in and supported summer offerings of foundational CNS courses through ARPA-funded program for over 500 CNS students with academic challenges
- Held numerous workshops and events through the Office of Student Success and Diversity and the CNS Advising Office to promote belonging, build community, and enhance the academic success of our students:
- Applying to Graduate School Workshop - October
- Funding Your Dreams: Scholarships Workshop - November
- Funding Your Dreams: Scholarship Essays Writing Workshop - December
- Getting Involved in Research Workshop, Part 1 - February
- Working with Google Calendar for Study Flow Workshop - February
- Preparing for Graduation Workshop - February
- Getting Involved in Research Workshop, Part 2- March
- CNS Career Chat Workshop: Make the Most of your Summer - March
- Get Involved! Finding Volunteering Opportunities - April
- Friendsgiving - November
- Hot Cocoa for Final Exams - December
- Winter Crafts to Donate as Holiday Gifts - December
- Black History Month – February
- CNS Scavenger Hunt
- CNS CARES tents
- CNS Wayfinder tents
Reaffirming that a sense of complacency especially in positions of power inhibits system change toward equality
- Organized a Solidarity Gathering for CNS faculty, staff and students in response to racist email sent to Black members of the UMass community.
- Participated in The Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Collaborative, a digital space for collaboration and mutual support for UMass faculty and staff who are involved in the important work of building diversity, equity, and inclusion rooted in justice on campus
- Sponsored participation in urban Extension programs
- Invited external speakers on "Extension's Role in Addressing Historical Inequities" and hosted a facilitated discussion on "Connecting our Values with Intentions and Actions" at the CAFE annual retreat
- Co-sponsored with the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences a seminar and campus visit by Micere Keels: “Stepping Outside the Diversity Box: Considering Multiple Dimensions of Inclusion in Our Work with Students”
Advocating for a climate where white peers can routinely learn about unseen social hardships faced by BIPOC, especially between the Black community and our judicial system
- Launched CNS Leadership Fellows Program to provide leadership opportunities to advance initiatives in our core mission including those aimed at creating a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just community
- Organized and co-sponsored intergroup dialogue training for faculty and STEM administrators across campus
- Organized DEI training for department heads/chairs, associate deans, and the dean
- Organized department and program climate advisory committees and funded their work
- Recognized faculty, staff and students making exemplary contributions to DEIJB through college-level and unit level awards
- Developed Wikipedia project to increase the representation of historically minoritized groups in STEM on this platform and challenged departments to embed the project in at least one course required for each major in CNS
- Offered two live-theater workshops on microaggressions and bystander training by Theater Delta to faculty, staff and students
- Advocated for students whose academic accommodations were not met
- Initiated conversations with transgender students and students with disabilities to learn about their needs and to determine future actions
- Worked with staff and Climate Committee to provide awareness training including IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory) assessment work and sponsoring two book clubs (including “Black, Brown and Bruised” and a CAFE centered discussion of "Caste" )
Implementing all points mentioned in this petition document to all departments across the campus at the undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and administration levels within the next two years
- Continued monthly diversity leadership meetings to initiate, coordinate and assess activities to advance DEIJB across the college
- Continued practice of annually updating the college community on our progress and activities.
Thank you to all who have contributed to these efforts, which we hope will inspire all members of CNS to engage. Although there is so much more work to be done, every effort, big or small, makes a difference, and our collective efforts will drive sustained change.
- How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
- So You Want To Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Me And White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad
- The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward
- Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, by Audre Lorde
- Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, by C. Riley Snorton
- A Terrible Thing To Waste: Environmental Racism And Its Assault On The American Mind, by Harriet A. Washington
- White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo
- They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement, by Wesley Lowery
- Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson
- The Color Of Law, by Richard Rothstein
- Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children In A Racially Unjust America, by Jennifer Harvey
- White Like Me, Scott Morris, 2013, 69 minutes
- The Central Park Five, Ken Burns, 2012, 119 minutes
- Whose Streets?, Sabaah Folayan, 2017, 102 minutes
- The Hate U Give, George Tillman Jr, 2018, 133 minutes
- 1965 Debate Between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, 58 minutes
- Skin Deep, Frances Reid, 1995, 53 minutes
- 13th, Ava DuVernay, 2016, 100 minutes
- I Am Not Your Negro, 2017, 93 minutes
- Just Mercy, 2019, 137 minutes
Curricula & Syllabi
- “Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus”
- Talking About Race (hosted by The National Museum of African American History & Culture)
TED Talks & Podcasts
- “The difference between being ‘not racist’ and antiracist”—Author and historian Ibram X. Kendi defines antiracism, and advocates for actively rejecting prejudice in our public policies and institutions.
- “Talks to Help You Understand Racism in America”—A curated list of TED Talks including an interview with the founders of #BlackLivesMatter
- The 1619 Project—Multimedia published by The New York Times
- Intersectionality Matters!—Podcast by the African American Policy Forum with host Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Code Switch—Podcast by National Public Radio (NPR) about racism in America
College of Natural Sciences