DEI and Social Justice in STEMM Blog

ASCN Working Group 5 is calling for blog posts around diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and social justice in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) programs, classrooms and departments. Some potential areas for discussion include:

  • Changing the culture around introductory "weed out" courses
  • Defining what diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice mean in the classroom
  • Creating diversity statements for STEMM departments
  • Approaching positionality in the classroom 
  • Addressing the pushback to Critical Race Theory on campuses 
  • Including historically marginalized students in decision-making processes 

Posts will be shared with educators and administrators and hosted on the ASCN Blog. Anyone working on incorporating DEI and justice into STEMM programs and education is welcome to post. Our posting criteria may be found on the Author instructions. All posts will receive comments from an editing team prior to posting. Please consider contributing to our ongoing discussion!

Editorial team: 

Sharon Homer-Drummond, PhD
Tri-County Technical College
Carlos Goller
North Carolina State University
Melissa Haswell
Delta College

Creating space for critical conversations in chemistry: Lessons Learned from organizing DEIJR Symposia at national meetings of the American Chemical Society

Posted: Sep 13 2023 by

Guizella Rocabado
Southern Utah University

Stephanie Feola
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Guizella Rocabado, Southern Utah University

Stephanie Feola, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Author Note: This is one of two blog series. This first post is written by Guizella Rocabado.

Creating space for discussions and presentations about issues of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Respect (DEIJR) is a means of building momentum for systemic change in discipline-based education research (DBER) communities. In this two-part blog, I, Guizella Rocabado, and co-organizer Stephanie Feola, will share the lessons we've learned throughout this change process. In this first installment, we will describe the lessons learned from instituting the change of creating a space for DEIJR research and conversations during the American Chemical Society National Meetings. In the second installment, we will share how the focus of the presentations, the nature of the discussions, and theorizing about DEIJR have changed since we began organizing the symposium in 2019 and draw implications for systemic change. More

From Civic Engagement to Civic Courage—Science Education's Next Chapter

Posted: Jun 8 2023 by

Eliza Jane Reilly
National Center for Science and Civic Engagement
Eliza Jane Reilly, Executive Director, National Center for Science and Civic Engagement

It is hard to escape the fact that the relationship of evidence-based or scientific thinking to civic life in a democracy--which had been acknowledged by the science advocacy community for over a century--has attained a new urgency in the age of fake news and alternative facts. Recently a colleague remarked that the project I helped found and now lead, Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) "was ahead of its time," and I've been reflecting on that idea. Historians love to quote the philosopher Kierkegaard who observed, "we live forward, but understand backward." And I've spent a lot of time this year trying to "understand backward" the broader cultural and educational context that produced SENCER to consider whether SENCER was indeed "ahead," or more accurately an embodiment of the best thinking available in its own time.[1]  I'm especially concerned with considering what elements of our collective past can support a future of civically and socially-engaged learning in science, despite a dramatically altered academic landscape. This changed landscape includes the precarity of faculty status and autonomy, the contraction of institutional finances, unprecedented student needs and expectations, and frankly, the decline of administrative leadership in the face of political pressure, which has provided much less space for creativity and academic innovation. More

Universal Design for Learning: Examples for deep learning

Posted: Apr 26 2023 by

Patricia Marsteller
Emory University
Patricia Marsteller, Emory University

Bryan Dewsbury introduced the concept of 'deep teaching' (Dewsbury, 2019). In essence, the model focuses on a sequential approach, beginning with reflection and self-awareness for the instructor and the development of knowledge and empathy for the students.  The model progresses to considerations of the classroom climate and the other support networks that can part of developing deep learning for students. The deep teaching model can be developed incrementally and is posited as a recurring model applied to each class since each class has different students with different backgrounds, hopes and cultures. Combined with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL, CAST and UDL blog post), Deep Teaching has the potential to reach all students and help them become deep learners. In this post, we will share examples of strategies for multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression that, applied in conjunction with instructor self-reflection, can lead to inclusive and equitable STEM classrooms in higher education. More

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by Design: Getting Started with Universal Design for Learning

Posted: Mar 27 2023 by

Patricia Marsteller
Emory University
Patricia Marsteller, Emory University

"Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them.For example, those with sensory disabilities...; learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because they allow students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential." 

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from 

Readers of this blog series are already committed to inclusive teaching practices.  However, not all have explored the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to their own courses. Many people think that UDL applies only to people with sight or hearing impairments, but this is not accurate. More

From Deficit to Asset Framing: How Shifting Faculty Mindset Framing Can Positively Affect Student Motivation and Belonging

Posted: Feb 23 2023 by

Casey Wright
Western Michigan University
Melissa Haswell
Delta College

Melissa Haswell, Delta College

Casey Wright, Western Michigan University

Student's cultural wealth and faculty mindset framing are often overlooked aspects of educational practice that if addressed, could lead to meaningful change and academic success of students. To shift toward an assets-based view of students and cultivate student belonging we encourage asset framing of students through the cultural wealth, or the knowledge, skills, and contacts, they bring to STEMM classrooms.

It is often posited that academic success is predicated on the "grittiness" of students. Grit can be defined as "expressing a passion and perseverance for pursuing long-term goals" which provides students with the ability to achieve long-term goals even in the face of adversity (Allen, Kannangara & Carson, 2021, p. 75). Grit is often associated with mindset or the perception that students have about their ability to learn. Mindsets, or implicit theories, related to learning generally emphasize the "fixedness or malleability of human characteristics like intelligence or personality (Canning, et. al, 2019)." The majority of research on grit and mindsets related to learning and academic success have focused on students. Thus, leaving the "blame" for lower levels of academic persistence and success squarely on the perceived characteristics of students. However, several recent studies have examined the influence of faculty mindset on student success. This new research indicates that faculty behavior and classroom culture which stems from faculty mindset affects persistence and leads to larger racial achievement gaps in STEM courses and programs (Canning, et. al, 2019). More

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