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. For us, 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.
Without question, we have much more to accomplish in support of this aspiration, but we are very proud of our achievements and accomplishments to date, contributed by so many members of the CNS community. These contributions have advanced our workplace and learning climate toward a goal of empowering all to reach their full potential and demonstrate our dedication and commitment to that goal.
We are honored to share some of these efforts from the 2020-2021 academic year, organized by our self-identified priorities, with you:
- 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, 2 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, Lee-SIP, Forsythe-Grange Mentoring, and STEM Bridge programming to support the academic success of undergraduates, particularly those from underserved populations. COMMENT: AY20 Lee-SIP was in person
- 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 8 discussions with different Extension Leadership took place 1/28 – 4/7. 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 diversity, equity, and inclusion 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.
We sincerely thank all who have contributed to these efforts.
The CNS Climate Advisory Committees will soon begin their work for this academic year. We 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.
College of Natural Sciences