Is the Bus Lane Missing for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Justice (DEIJ) Initiatives in Higher Education?

Reema Zeineldin
Framingham State College
Martina Rosenberg
University of Connecticut
Martina Rosenberg, She/hers, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT and Reema Zeineldin, She/her, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA

published May 26, 2022 8:15am

We all want to travel to desired places, but we do not all use the same means to get to our destination. Modes of transportation are human-powered or require replenishment of fuel. Some of us travel in isolation, others car-pool to tackle the journey together, or use public transportation. Progress may feel more like insignificant baby steps and less like traveling in the fast lane where pooling resources and effective pathways decreases demands on each individual. Similarly, context and strategies vary in institutions of higher education, when initiating improvements in institutional climates.

Members of the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) community often look to connect and learn from each other about inclusive pedagogies and commitment to anti-racism. In Table 1, we list some examples of initiatives by existing networks serving that purpose in academia. We determined that the list mainly corresponds to two of the four categories of change strategies for undergraduate STEM developed by Henderson, Beach, & Finkelstein (2011) [1, 2]. Those two categories are disseminating curriculum & pedagogy (DCP), and developing reflective personnel (DRP)(see Four Categories Change Strategies for Undergraduate STEM figure 1). Few fit the other two categories of developing shared vision (DSV) and enacting policies (EP), both of which are essential for institutionalization. In analyzing the listing, it is clear to us that the reason for this dichotomy is that most of these initiatives engage individuals- the pedestrians and solo commuters- and those that engage teams- riders of the bus- may not necessarily result in institution-wide changes (i.e. a dedicated bus lane) due to unguaranteed long-term institutional commitment.

Such commitment by institutions of higher education (IHE) mainly occurs by providing funding support and also by valuing these changes at various levels within the institution. This would materialize not only through committing teams to participate in initiatives such as those listed in Table 1, but also allowing those teams to discuss the changes and their implementation at the institution by giving them authority, time-release, and compensation to carry out and elevate that work. Support of that agency creates the bus lane instead of the aimless and random driving of several buses (at the level of the institution) and solo commuters who are purposeful yet disconnected.

How are you navigating DEIJ in higher education? How can you develop a bus lane for your institution?

  • Know your context (e.g., through a self-study). Understanding the institution will help determine how to leverage existing initiatives (Table 1) and select the tools they offer to advance your initiative. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; instead, focus precisely on what you need.
  • In examining your context, be specific with the desired destination. What is your intended reform? Is it a unit-wide or an institution-wide practice of inclusive pedagogies, creation or revision of DEIJ-minded policies and practices with students, transformation of the campus climate to become DEIJ-minded and more welcoming for students, faculty, and staff members, or a commitment by the institution to anti-racism and DEIJ? 
  • Develop a shared vision - and vocabulary - of DEIJ regarding that destination. Creating a shared vision seems cumbersome, but creating that "bus lane" mitigates the danger of projects getting derailed by leadership or personnel turnover. The institution would need to determine a process to get to the destination, one that models DEIJ values. The strategy of using process facilitators for group work is recommended. Whether these facilitators are invited from other units within the same institution or are external, such as the PULSE ambassadors (see Table 1), this strategy is likely to accelerate the journey.
  • Find institution-specific support.Support from multiple stakeholders and in various forms (e.g., resources, commitment) is essential to create the bus lane. In its absence, please ride the bus or drive solo with any of the networks in Table 1 to initiate small changes until you convince your institution to create a bus lane.

Table 1: Initiatives by existing networks/organizations focusing on DEIJ and anti-racism in academia.

Initiative Organization Target audience Format of initiative Category of change strategy [1, 2]

Link

[ref#]

Build an alliance in higher education to educate on becoming anti-racist


Anti-racism in Academia (ARiA). A grassroots movement founded in 2020; led by volunteers Any members of institutions of higher education (IHE) Remote meetings and web multimedia-resources

Meetings: developing reflective personnel (DRP)

Resources: disseminating curriculum and pedagogy (DCP)

3
Free self-paced ongoing online course by an IHE on understanding structural and institutional racism Boston University Any free registrant as student Online course DCP 4
Online course, through an NSF-funded project) to promote inclusive STEM learning environments. Free, 6 weeks, instructor-paced. Offered Spring 2022-Fall2023 The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project members: Boston University, Northwestern, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Des Moines Area Community College, The University of Utah, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the University of Georgia. STEM faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and any free registrant as student Online course DCP 5
Meetings by a national organization to develop a cohesive report with recommendations for actionable anti-racist mechanisms to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Had first meeting in January 2022 The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine. Committee on advancing anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM organizations. Committee members and admitted guests Online meetings DRP 6
Social justice and anti-racism resources for graduate education Council of Graduate Schools Graduate faculty, staff, and students Web multimedia-resources DCP 7
Series of meetings by Sea Change initiative in AAAS to advance institutional transformation in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion in IHE American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Paid registrant as participant Meetings DCP 8
Transformative conversations by non-profit organization Gardner Institute Free for registrants Meetings DCP 9
Workshops by non-profit organization Gardner Institute Paid registrants Workshops Developing shared vision (DSV), and enacting policies (EP) 9
Institutes on DEIJ by international organization The American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) Paid applicant teams Workshops DCP and DRP 10
2021 Guide by and for federal agencies The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Retrievable free resource Resource DCP 11
Fellowship Type Ambassador Program by a non-profit organization Howard Hughes Medical Institute HHMI) High school and Undergrad educators, Biological Sciences focus Professional development pathway; leadership opportunities DCP and DRP 12
Funding support for organizational learning communities by a non-profit organization HHMI Teams from IHE (faculty, staff, students) Funding for DEIJ capacity building and institutional transformation in STEM DCP, DRP, DSV, and EP 13
Facilitating organizational learning by a non-profit Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education, PULSE Life Sciences Departments, facilitation of department self-assessment, recognition and networking, self-study tools including DEI rubric DRP and DSV 14
Webinars by a professional organization Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER) Biology Educators and administrators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students Remote events open to registrants DCP and DRV 15
Anti-racist training by grassroots network Academics for black survival and Wellness Personnel in academia Remote training, events, and resources DCP and DRV 16
Resources  for institutional change by a group within a professional network Accelerated Systemic Change Network (ASCN) – Working Group 5 Personnel in academia Resources DCP 17
Resources and training by a network National equity project Personnel in academia leadership training and consulting DCP and DRV 18
Training by a university center University of Southern California Center for Urban Education Institutions and groups within institutions Resources, webinars, and consulting sessions DCP, DRP, DSV, and EP 19
Resources and training by a university center Center for Integrated Research in Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) New faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students Resources, webinars, and courses DCP and DRV 20


References

1. Henderson, C., Beach, A., & Finkelstein, N. (2011). Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM instructional practices: An analytic review of the literature. Journal of research in science teaching, 48(8), 952-984.

2. Four Categories of Change Strategies for Undergraduate STEMM. Olmstead, A. https://ascnhighered.org/ASCN/change_theories/collection/four_quadrants.html (Last accessed May 9, 2022)

Links for initiatives' websites 

3. https://ariajourney.org/

4. https://thenetwork.bu.edu/offering/understanding-structural-institutional-racism/?tm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_3831805_nl_Race-on-Campus_date_20220308&cid=rc&source=&sourceid

5. https://www.inclusivestemteaching.org/

6. https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/01-21-2022/committee-on-advancing-anti-racism-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-in-stem-organizations-meeting-1#sectionWebFriendly

7. https://cgsnet.org/data-insights/diversity-equity-inclusiveness/social-justice-and-anti-racism-resources-for-graduate-education/

8. https://seachange.aaas.org/

9. https://www.jngi.org/

10. https://www.aacu.org/institutes

11. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/091621-Best-Practices-for-Diversity-Inclusion-in-STEM.pdf

12. https://www.biointeractive.org/ambassador-community

13. https://www.hhmi.org/science-education/programs/inclusive-excellence-3-learning-community

14. https://pulse-community.org/

15. https://saberbio.wildapricot.org/Diversity_Inclusion

16 https://www.academics4blacklives.com/about

17. https://ascnhighered.org/ASCN/diversity.html

18. https://www.nationalequityproject.org/about

19.https://cue.usc.edu/about/

20. https://www.cirtl.net/